Five months ago life changed in a way we never anticipated. With the arrival of COVID-19 to Guatemala, the government took extreme measures to prevent the rapid spread, which ultimately saved many lives and Guatemala is in a much better position compared to many other Latin American countries or the US in terms of COVID-19 cases and deaths. We have had months of curfew, weekend lockdowns, mask mandates, public transport shutdowns and more.
While these measures have saved lives from COVID-19, it has sent the Guatemalan economy, which depends on 60%+ informal economic activities, into shock. Acute malnutrition has tripled in a country that already suffers from chronic malnutrition in approximately 50% of the population.
Our social impacto company, EarthEmpower, has been able to move to mostly remote work, creating satellite mini factories in rural communities to ensure our teammates don't have to leave home, created home offices for teammates which meant finding ways to get wifi in rural Guatemalan communities, and we have expanded our ability to purchase native and traditional herbs, fruits, and spices from female, indigenous, and small-scale farmers during a global pandemic, ensuring more farmers had income with fair and just prices.
It has been exhausting yet transformative for our team to see that a small group of women could not only survive but grow during this crisis.
As we saw the negative economic impacts of the public health restrictions impacting families in the communities where our teammates live and where we work with farmers, we knew our normal work creating fair trade markets with farmers was not enough in these circumstance and we reached out to you for support to respond to this crisis. With your generosity, extra hours put in by my teammates, and the leadership and time of farmer leaders to organize information and deliveries, we have been able to provide emergency support to hundreds of families in the last three months with a pending delivery in the next few days.
We are moved by this generosity and want to share the results.
1) Each month we communicate with the leaders of our farmer groups and our teammates in rural communities who identify the highest need families at that time. This criteria is based on number of children, single mothers, senior citizens, lack of access to employment, health issues, but ultimately we trust the community / farmer leaders and teammates to best assess this need as an outsider I am not qualified to do so.
2) The community / farmer leaders guide us to decide what is the highest priority food and public healthy (soap, masks, gel), items that should be delivered and funds are assigned. We choose to use this participatory method as fundamental to our organizational philosophy is empowering local knowledge.
3) Funds are allocated to each community group and purchases are made locally by our farmer group representative or teammate in the community, relief bags are packed, and delivered by the leader. Recipients sign upon receipt to ensure the traceability of the use of funds.
This table shows the execution of funds thus far and projected use for August.
We share some pictures with you of our beloved Guatemala, of the women we work with and other women we have not yet met but were identified as high need and received support from your donations. They asked us to send their thank you and their blessings to you for your generosity.
If you would like to continue supporting this ongoing relief effort you can do so here: https://donorbox.org/covidcrisis