Empowering Women in our Coastal Communities

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Mayra (WK social worker) recognizing the women’s committee during the recent inauguration of our coastal clinic.

Over the years, we have collaborated with the women in our communities so that we incorporate their visions of our programs and their futures. A strong desire voiced from the women was to create a formal women’s committee to help structure programs and assist with the organization of the medical program in the community as well bring classes and resources to women and children. Our social workers collaborated with the women to elect the committee and complete the proper paper work with the government.

This 7 member committee is now a legal, recognized organization in Guatemala. The women have created a work plan to aid our medical clinics by helping to weigh and measure children, help to deliver information to community members about appointments and help people with follow-up care, food, or supplies if someone is ill. Also, in order to promote good nutrition for children they began a healthy snacks campaign by selling healthy snacks at clinics which in turn provides funds for their committee.

Women’s committee planting medicinal plants.

Upon completion of the community building, the women’s committee asked to utilize space between the clinic and community building for a community medicinal garden. Wuqu’ Kawoq, with the support from Sylvan Lake Rotary Club helped provide the initial start up and now they have a strong garden of over 15 different medicinal plants. The women have attended two lectures from the medicinal plant expert at Clinica Maxena in nearby community that utilizes medicinal plants as well as a lecture from Wuqu’ Kawoq’s Dr. Rohloff on the use of plants. We have also provided the committee with many copies of Wuqu’ Kawoq’s book, Tiqaq’omaj Qi’:  Let’s Heal Ourselves: Medicinal Plants and Common Illnesses.

The women’s committee is now focusing on future programming. They are interested in organizing and hosting the women’s health education classes that we have begun in the Highlands. In 2013, we will begin the Women’s Health and Empowerment class that we have successfully held in the Highlands for over 200 women over the past two years. The committee has also shown interest in literacy classes for women, micro-finance and agriculture.

We are excited to have this wonderful communication and collaboration with the women in the communities that will enable long term holistic involvement and empowerment by providing leadership and a home for women’s programs.