During this trip, Cathy and Carrie made sure to meet with a variety of microloan groups. These microloan groups help fulfill the pillar of incoming-earning power in the Guatemala Partnership.
The Association of Mam Christian Women for Development has 400 members. As these women live across a large geographic area in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, they organize themselves into smaller groups of 12-18 women in each aldea, a term for village or local community. Together, each group is encouraged to write a business plan and apply to the Association Board for an interest-free microloan.
The New Castle Presbytery and member churches sponsor these groups with microloan funds ranging from $3,000-$5,000. The women then divide the loan equally and launch their own self-sustaining business. Business can be soap-making, chocolate-making, roadside tortilla stands – and most commonly, purchasing livestock.
In these instances, we work directly with a Heifer International consultant to provide training and guidance on raising healthy livestock and maximizing profit. Each year, the women pay back their loan, and can reapply for a new loan – for up to five years. After that, they are expected to be completely self-sufficient, and the full principal of the original loan can be given to another group. This program is a wonderful example of sustainability and paying it forward!
Cathy and Carrie visited a variety of mircroloan groups during this past week. Westminster recently started supporting two new mircoloan groups. They first visited Reynas. In June 2017, Westminster provided funds for their projects: cows, chickens, and growing trees from seeds for the Association’s reforestation project. Cathy and Carrie got to touch base on their progress and hear about the impact the microloan, and by proxy, the partnership is affecting these communities.
The meeting with Reynas went so well that they were even able to develop a prayer partnership with their group.
Arguably the most inspiration part of the day was when Cathy and Carrie spoke to the young women of Reynas. One young woman said she was “Thankful for her mother, who has taught her to fight in this life to make her own money.”
It was encouraging to hear that the partnership is proving sustainable economically, spiritually, and organizationally. These young women are part of the future of the Association of Mam Christian Women. This moment truly underscores that empowered women build strong families and strong communities.
After their time with Reynas, they visited the other new microloan group, Mujeres Virtuosas. This is Westminster’s new micro loan group. There are 17 members in this group with projects of cows, chickens and other small animals.
As these microloan groups have demonstrated, it truly takes to village. In that same sense, we at Westminster need to expand our own village so to speak.
We are building a team for Guatemala Partnership and would greatly welcome your participation!
Do you like to travel? Do you have time, energy, and skills to share? If so, we need you!
New Castle Presbytery’s partnership with the Association of Mam Christian Women for Development is strengthening – and there is much work to be done.
We are assembling a dedicated team to steward this relationship and support the development projects of the Association. From latrines to family gardens to prayer partnerships – there is something for everyone! Please contact us.