Empower women. Eliminate poverty.


Six Climbs That Changed Lives

Susan Zimmermann stands at the top of two fourteeners: Mt. Elbert and Mt. Quandary. By the end of September, she will have climbed six fourteeners as part of her challenge to raise $8,000 for women’s preventive health services in Guatemala.

by Rachel Turner

“I turned 66 years old this month, so I determined to climb six fourteeners. What better way to celebrate?” said Susan Zimmermann, a Friendship Bridge board member.

Susan challenged herself for change – not only for her physical health, but to support women’s preventive health services in Guatemala where Friendship Bridge provides microfinance, education, and health services. In Guatemala, misconceptions and lack of education about health care, as well as limited access to culturally appropriate services, result in high rates of preventable diseases. So Friendship Bridge designed their Health for Life program to specifically address the preventive healthcare challenges that rural, indigenous women face in Guatemala.

“Friendship Bridge is absolutely top notch,” said Susan. “Friendship Bridge provides a hand up, not a hand out, with the goal of giving women the skills and support they need to improve their lives and the lives of their families over time.” Susan traveled to Guatemala a few months ago to see their work first hand. Her visit to Olga, a jewelry maker who has been a Friendship Bridge client for 11 years, remains imprinted in her memory. “We were welcomed to Olga’s home where we saw solidarity in action,” said Susan. “Olga has created a truly viable business that employs much of her family. The sense of family and community, along with her energy and enthusiasm were so moving.”

Joining the Health for Life campaign has allowed Susan to connect her own community with two things that she’s passionate about – creating opportunities that empower women and climbing mountains. “This is more than an event. This is a way for me to be in touch with my friends in a more personal and direct way,” said Susan. “Also, climbing mountains give’s me a sense of perspective and joy. At the top, you can see from a different viewpoint – it’s a metaphor of perspective.”

With Susan’s help, along with the rest of the Health for Life campaign participants, Friendship Bridge plans to raise $50,000 in the month of September. This will be matched for a total of $100,000 to provide for women’s preventive health services in Guatemala. This will allow Friendship Bridge to reach 3,000 more women with preventive health services.

“This campaign is a great way to let people know about something you care about,” said Susan. “A little goes a long way in Guatemala.”

Click to join the campaign or to make a donation.

What your donation could do in Guatemala:

  • $10-Two Pap smears
  • $25-Preventive health services for one woman
  • $50-Two birth control implants
  • $100-Preventive health services package for four women for a year
  • $600-A laptop for a nurse traveling to rural areas with a mobile clinic
  • $1,000-A portion of health equipment, such as a diabetes testing machine


Rachel Turner is the Global Communications Manager for Friendship Bridge. Having worked and lived throughout the world, she’s now enjoys calling Panajachel, Guatemala, home.