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Reflections on my experiences as a Friendship Bridge intern

by Madeleine Kane, Salud para la Vida intern

The bed leans precariously on three wooden legs and a stove base. There are two chairs, and just enough room to stretch your arms out in both directions. On top of the bed lay a few consent forms, a glucometer, a speculum, disposable gloves, a few bottles of pills and cotton swabs, and a hazardous waste container. Ana, the Wuqu’ Kawoq nurse, smiles at me with a stethoscope around her neck as I snap pictures and she talks quietly in Quiché with a client. To get here, Ana told me to tell the chicken bus driver that I wanted to get off at the 115th kilometer after Los Encuentros (just outside Sololá if you are familiar with the area), then walk off the side of the highway onto an unmarked dirt path. My only clue was that this path was underneath a certain political billboard. From there I followed a Friendship Bridge client down to her house, where Ana was waiting for us both.

This is what preventative healthcare looks like for 11 Friendship Bridge clients in Chulimán. Earlier that month at their monthly loan repayment meeting the Trust Bank participated in a Non-Formal Education session about cervical cancer and the importance of receiving Pap smears, a service that is now available to them as a benefit of being clients of Friendship Bridge. It’s too early to tell exactly what the impact of the education and the mobile clinics are, but 10 out of 11 women made it to their “appointment” with Ana that day and most chose to have a Pap smear.

My name is Madeleine Kane and for the past two months I’ve been interning with Salud Para la Vida, Friendship Bridge’s newest project focusing on creating better access to preventative healthcare for our clients. It’s one of three new projects that Friendship Bridge is rolling out as part of its commitment to holistic empowerment and poverty eradication among rural Guatemalan women. I graduated from Stanford in June 2014 with a degree in Human Biology (concentrating in Community Health) and worked in municipal community engagement in the Bay Area this past year before arriving in Guatemala during the middle of the launch of Salud Para la Vida.

Salud Para la Vida focuses on giving clients health education sessions through their regular monthly Trust Bank meetings and linking them with preventative health services offered by Maya Health Alliance, or, as they’re known locally, Wuqu’ Kawoq. I’ve been working with Amy, our Health Project Coordinator, and other Friendship Bridge staff to support four main aspects of the project – health education curriculum, field observations, data and survey work, and infrastructure development.

On different days I’ve found myself helping create the materials for a game that teaches clients how much sugar is in their favorite soda, or traveling by chicken bus and pickup truck to remote villages to watch education sessions with Trust Banks. I’ve hunched over endless Excel spreadsheets and graphs and worked directly with Wuqu’ Kawoq staff to iron out the little details like creating billing procedures. It’s not all exciting. But it all leads to moments that are improving women’s health in very real ways. It leads back to that little room where a woman is about to receive a Pap smear with a stove standing in for stirrups. It leads to the moment when a woman looks up in shock during an education session and swears off giving her children orange soda after finding out it has over 15 tablespoons of sugar per bottle.

In a country where cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women, yet 78% of Mayan women aged 17-49 report never having had a Pap smear, we are encouraged that in the first seven days of mobile clinics, 92 Friendship Bridge clients decided to have their Pap smear test done. Thousands more clients in the Sololá region have heard these Non-Formal Education sessions on cervical cancer, diabetes, and family planning. As the clinics continue to roll out to each Trust Bank in the Sololá region, we expect to hear many more success stories, and many more challenges. The work is only just beginning, and I’m grateful to have been a part of its launch.

At the end of the day, whether they’re working on curriculums, generating reports or offering clinics out in the field, the Friendship Bridge and Wuqu’ Kawoq staff working on this project are quite literally saving lives. I’ve been inspired every day by the passion here to continue to make sure that Friendship Bridge clients are not just surviving, but thriving.

Felicitaciones a todos, gracias por tenerme aquí, ¡y adelante con el buen trabajo!
(Congratulations to everyone, thank you for having me here, and let’s continue with the good work!)

Clients learn about nutrition during a Non-Formal Education session. Here they are learning about the sugar content in soda and how sugar relates to diabetes. Salud para la Vida includes four education sessions about topics related to preventative health.

A client draws eyes on the outline of a body. This exercise at a Non-Formal Education session asked women to draw a part of the body they were thankful for.

A nurse in one of the mobile health clinics gets ready for a day of work. Friendship Bridge clients earn the benefit of accessing preventative health services for free after two successful loan cycles. The services are delivered via mobile clinics that travel to the villages where clients live. The clinics are operated by female medical staff who speak the same indigenous languages as Friendship Bridge clients.

Reflections on my experience as a Friendship Bridge Development Intern

by Zoe Seward, Summer 2015 Development Intern

My name is Zoe Seward. I’m a sophomore at NYU studying business and political economics, and I was a Development intern for Friendship Bridge this summer. I first got involved with Friendship Bridge as a freshman in high school, when the organization let me conduct an interview with them via Skype for my capstone Spanish project. When I developed an interest in the microfinance industry five years later, I immediately thought of Friendship Bridge as the perfect way to explore the sector. While the microfinance industry as a whole has weathered some serious criticism in recent years, Friendship Bridge is virtually unimpeachable, and is improving women’s lives in areas far beyond mere financial inclusion.

Over the summer, I worked on two major projects. First I did extensive research into 20-30 MFIs in Bolivia and Peru. I was looking for organizations with viable agricultural lending models for Friendship Bridge to incorporate into its existing credit products. The Bolivian microfinance sector is one of the most developed in the world, and places heavy emphasis on agricultural lending in particular. Agriculture requires unique financial structures because it is such a high risk sector, and because it takes such a long time for farmers to see return on investment. Friendship Bridge was looking to collaborate with one or two Latin American organizations with effective agricultural lending programs to more effectively reach its poorest clients, and my research was the first step in that process.

Second, I wrote an Executive Summary of the organization to apply for a major industry impact investing loan. This loan would allow Friendship Bridge to achieve the goals outlined in its 2014-2016 Strategic Plan, including the expansion of its Health, Artisan and Agricultural programs. Writing the Executive Summary was the perfect way to learn how an effective microfinance organization operates from the inside out.

Hopefully, the projects I worked on will eventually have a measurable impact on the women Friendship Bridge serves through the expansion of the Agricultural program and the organization as a whole. In the short term, it was exciting to see Friendship Bridge’s CEO & President, Karen Larson, inform her exploratory trip down to Bolivia based on my suggestions, and incredibly satisfying to have a dense six-page loan application to show for my work.

This experience defied all internship stereotypes. While there was definitely some stamp-licking and data-entry, the staff at Friendship Bridge went out of their way to make sure that I was involved in meaningful projects and that I got to learn about the inner workings of the organization and the industry as a whole. I got so much out of this experience, and I hold the women that I had the privilege to work with in the highest esteem.

A Reflection on my Experience as the Volunteer Management Intern

By Sarah Quiat, Volunteer Management Intern (Summer 2015)

When people asked me what I was doing with my summer, and I would tell them that I was working as an intern at Friendship Bridge, they would almost always nod their heads vaguely. I would then try to articulate my experience with Friendship Bridge this summer.

On my first day at Friendship Bridge, I stuffed envelopes with another intern in order to get the Spring Appeal out the door. Without even realizing it, I began my work with Volunteer Management, gaining a perspective on one of many forms of volunteering at Friendship Bridge that I would find myself constantly working to make more efficient in numerous ways. In my time at Friendship Bridge, I created a comprehensive Volunteer Management manual, automated the system of responding to volunteers, and created a method of communication between Friendship Bridge and its volunteers and interns once they have completed their work here. I updated the Volunteer Opportunities and Internships pages of the website, and I spent a lot of time incorporating the data associated with volunteers into Friendship Bridge’s database: updating the names and contact information of volunteers and interns, adding searchable designations for the work volunteers are interested in doing, and recording the time frames volunteers worked for FB.

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Sarah Quiat, Summer Intern

Along the way, I worked on the Artisan Access to Market project that Friendship Bridge is piloting, so that the artisanal crafts made by Friendship Bridge clients can be sold not only in Guatemala, but all over the world. Using Excel, we detailed every aspect of the beautiful work made by clients. My work will allow Friendship Bridge’s Circles to “shop” for the client products they would resell in the States.

Though my work with the Volunteer Management program may not directly impact all of the individual women who are clients at Friendship Bridge, the program I created will help Friendship Bridge to take best advantage of the volunteers who are vital to Friendship Bridge’s existence. Interns and volunteers help in a myriad of ways that allow Friendship Bridge to reach so many more clients and donors than it could without them.

I have learned so much from my time at Friendship Bridge. It has been so empowering to be in an office of women who are working to help other women feel empowered. It has strengthened the idea for me that people, and more specifically women, are capable of creating beautiful change in this world. Working here and seeing the incredible impact that this organization has had for women in Guatemala, I feel confident that, as a woman, I am capable of so much more than I often let myself believe. Additionally I have felt so connected to so many people I have never even met, for the ambition and entrepreneurship that I read about, and for the drive and volunteerism that I saw as I worked to create the Volunteer Management program.

Thank you, Friendship Bridge, for the opportunity that you gave me: to feel so closely bonded to every person who has contributed something beautiful to this organization, and also to this beautiful organization itself. It has been a powerful summer.

 

Sarah Quiat will be a sophomore at Vassar College this upcoming fall, with an intended Economics major. She is from Boulder, Colorado, and is deeply passionate about hiking, the artwork of Frida Kahlo, spreadsheets, and creating spaces for those who feel voiceless to speak.

 

Wildflower Hike to Cataract Lake

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By Sandie Godsman, Friendship Bridge volunteer

(Sandie is a member of the Evergreen Circle. She has been involved with Friendship bridge for 15 years and has visited Guatemala on an Insight Trip.)

The 2015 Friendship Bridge Wildflower Hike with John Fielder was a tremendous success! The hike raised $2,000 at Friendship Bridge’s Gala in April, and 20 people participated in the hike this July. We all met at the stunningly beautiful, wildflower-filled Cataract Lake area, north of Summit County at the East end of the Colorado Gore Range. We began our intimate gathering on the lake’s edge, with John sharing fascinating stories about his many hikes in the Colorado wilderness.

He shared stories of his adventures hiking into hidden places to take photographs of areas that were unknown and unseen before he published his books. He said that sometimes an elk or a bighorn sheep would stroll into the site as he was photographing. The animals seemed curious about his being there, would stare at him, and stay right there for some time while he took more photos. He decided to keep the many poses of the animal in his photos. John has a passion for preserving the wilderness, and he believes, “People need to be healthy, happy, and prosperous to be able to care for the environment.” Friendship Bridge can appreciate that health and prosperity of their clients is a priority, too.

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Each group had 75 minutes to hike with John and hear many techniques about taking great photographs using the cameras that they brought on their hike.  One participant said, “John taught me to take a photo with three parts: a close up, middle distance and far distance. That one idea really changed the way I take pictures now.” Some of the hikers shared that they had taken over 200 photos using John’s suggestions and the critical view he taught. While one group was with John, the other group was able to hike with Deborah Kramer, our Evergreen Circle Chef.  She did a great job of sharing fascinating wildflower facts and answering any questions the hikers had about the huge variety of colorful wildflowers they were able to see at Cataract Lake. After both groups were done, the participants were delighted to see an incredibly colorful presentation of the gourmet lunch spread, provided by the Evergreen Circle volunteers:

The lunch included seasoned roasted beef; pasta salad with arugula, fresh basil, and cherry tomatoes; balsamic marinated roasted vegetables; orange honey mint marinated fruits; white dinner rolls; chilled white wine; red wine; and rich chocolate butterscotch bars.

One participant said, ” I learned more about how to take better photographs in 10 minutes with John Fielder than I have in my whole lifetime of taking pictures!”

Note from Friendship Bridge: Sandie has volunteered to lead another Wildflower Hike next year in Vail! Stay tuned for more information!

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Announcing our newest branch location!

 

Committed to reaching the poor.

We remind ourselves of that every day. As part of that commitment, last month we opened our seventh branch, in the Department of San Marcos. San Marcos was chosen because of the large portion of its population that lives in poverty or extreme poverty. We’ve had a satellite office in San Marcos for the past year, and we are thrilled that it is now fully staffed and operational. Pictured below are Rodrigo (Branch Manager) and José Carlos (Facilitator) with a San Marcos client.

This is the first new branch office in more than six years, a reflection of the strength of the Credit and Operations team in Guatemala. Our 2014-2016 Strategic Plan calls for geographic expansion in Guatemala so we can reach more impoverished, rural clients. This new branch will allow us to do that, along with our satellite office in Huehuetenango, which is set to become a fully staffed branch next year. To read more about our expansion in Guatemala, take a moment to read our newly published 2014 Annual Report. Thanks for your support as we follow through on our commitment to reaching the poor and seeing empowered women eliminate poverty.

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Non-Formal Education: Motherhood and Women’s Rights (Summer 2015)

A special thanks to our Cada Mes Club – Friendship Bridge’s monthly donors – for supporting our clients on their monthly journeys.

Each month the members of Friendship Bridge’s nearly 2,000 Trust Banks travel, most likely by foot, to their designated meeting place to make payments on their loans and receive a Non-Formal Education (NFE) lesson in their native languages. These lessons focus on four educational pillars – women, family, business, and health. Here’s a glimpse into what clients learned in April, May, and June.

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April – Mi Negocio Hoy (My Business Today)

No lesson was given in April. Instead the women completed the Mi Negocio Hoy survey. Mi Negocio Hoy is our most comprehensive survey in terms of client reach. Last year we surveyed 10,000 clients. It is also our longest standing survey. It has been completed annually since 2012. As a result, we now have three years of data on which to analyze trends. As the name implies, questions center around each woman’s business – the type of business she manages, the tools she uses to manage her trade, the number of employees she has, her expenses and her income. Results become part of our annual Impact Report on Social Performance Management goals. Watch for its release in early September.

May – Motherhood

In May, in observance of Mother’s Day, the women celebrated motherhood and explored the different roles a mother must perform in order to nurture her relationships with her children, all of which are easier when financial burdens are lessened. To start off the lesson, the women listened to songs on YouTube that paid tribute to mothers. They were asked to share their reactions to the songs and their own experiences being mothers. In the end, they created paper “flowers” depicting symbols of motherhood – hearts, flowers, hugs – that fit in a “vase” made from a used container they had brought from home. This activity introduced the idea of creatively reusing common household items in alternative ways that might be resold.

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June – Women’s Rights

In June, the NFE sessions focused on women’s rights. The goal was to make clients aware that human rights – equality, freedom, and dignity – belong to women as well as men. Additional rights belong to women simply because of their ability to have children. To encourage a dialogue around the topic, the women started the lesson by cutting pictures out of a newspaper that represented the rights of women. Once they identified some women’s rights, clients made lists of the first rights they can remember having won and the first rights they remember losing. Finally the women cast votes by crossing an “I agree” line on the floor for the rights they thought most important – health vs. right to life, marriage vs. freedom from violence, food vs. voting/election, among others.

Our Non-Formal Education program is the backbone of our Microcredit Plus program, and one of the Plus services that we feel truly empowers our clients. Thanks again to our Cada Mes Club for helping support this program! You can find more information about joining the Cada Mes Club here.

Here are a few client reactions to June’s session on women’s rights:

  • “It is important that we are aware of all women’s rights. It is good to share it with other ladies and not remain silent. We are worthy and DSCN8520important.” 
    - Carmen,age 56

  • “The women’s rights session helped me remember how valuable I am. This topic and all the topics taught and discussed among our group help us grow and value ourselves as women.” 
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    - Alba Alicia, age 39

  • “This specific training encouraged me a lot, and it came at a perfect time, as I separated from my husband recently. It was hard to make that decision but he was unfaithful, and out of my own dignity I decided to move forward alone with my six children. I now understand the value of women and the need to enforce our rights. Thanks, Friendship Bridge, for reminding us of that.”
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    - Juana, age 33

 

 

 

 

Tomassa and Sanidad Divina

 

photos and story collected by Robert Weigel, Kiva Field Intern

The first thing you notice about Tomassa is the warmth and the pride that practically radiate from her when she speaks. As we waited for her Trust Bank meeting to begin, she welcomed us into her home as if we were long-lost friends.

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She shared a little bit of her story as we waited for the rest of her Trust Bank to arrive. Tomassa speaks little Spanish, so a translator bridged the conversation from her native language of K’iche. Tomassa is the oldest of five children, and at age 38 she herself has mothered ten children.

One by one the members of her Trust Bank, Sanidad Divina (Divine Healing), arrived at the meeting place. It was obvious the women were excited to be together at their monthly meeting. Tomassa and the rest of the Trust Bank listened intently as the Facilitator led an education session about proper family planning.

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As the Non-Formal Education session ended, Tomassa remarked that this topic was one of her favorites that she has learned about so far. “I cherish these meetings greatly,” she said, “because as a child I never experienced any type of formal education.” As the oldest child in her family, Tomassa said she had to mature quickly and take responsibility for household chores as her father tended to the fields and her mother took care of her siblings.

Life as a Guatemalan woman was difficult, she said, but it got better when she met her future husband, a hard-working boy from her village. Tomassa said she and her husband have supported and loved each through many difficult times. She smiled and said he is the love of her life.

Tomassa’s smile widened when she recounted to us how a financial and supportive push from Friendship Bridge gave her the chance to begin her animal husbandry business. She currently owns twelve animals – two pigs, four turkeys, and six chickens. It was clear she took great pride in her work.

With her face constantly beaming with joy and her voice full of pride when she talked about her business and what she has learned through Friendship Bridge’s educational sessions, we couldn’t help but get excited, too. Here was an empowered woman who was creating a better future for herself and her family, a future she could be proud of.

The unseen side of Guatemala: Chicken Buses

The unseen side of Guatemala: Chicken Buses

By Robert Weigel, field intern

Robert is a Friendship Bridge intern in Guatemala for the summer. He is a great asset to both the U.S. and Guatemalan teams, as he has been traveling throughout Guatemala collecting client stories and photos. We’ll be sharing some of Robert’s experiences this summer on our blog. Stay tuned for more close-up looks at Guatemala!

I have been in Guatemala for a short 3 weeks and each day has been a unique adventure. So far I have been to 15 towns, written 6 stories, taken 923 photographs, and met an uncountable number of friendly people. I have been repeatedly pinching myself to make sure that I am not sleeping, because this had been such a surreal and wonderful experience.

The long trips I have taken – some requiring me to wake up at 4 a.m. – have given me the opportunity to slip into deep, meditative thought while also getting to see the beautiful countryside. To my surprise, the majority of the main roads are very smooth and well built. This does not mean that the rides themselves are smooth, however. The vessel of transportation that you will take is determined by how much you want to spend and where you want to go. Typically, I find myself riding the famous ‘chicken buses.’ Let me tell you more about them.

In the United States, it is law that a school bus may not be driven for more than 10 years. After that, the buses are not usable in the United States, so many are sent down to the US – Mexico border, where they are auctioned off to the highest bidder. From the border, those headed to Guatemala are then driven directly south until they reach the country. There, the buses go through somewhat of a “Pimp my Ride – Guatemalan Edition” – the exteriors are brightly painted, head racks are installed, loud speaker systems are hooked up, and at times, TVs are installed that play nonstop reggaeton. It’s a boisterous ride.

I could write an entire book about what an amazing spectacle the chicken buses are, but I will save that for later. Thank you all for your interest in both Friendship Bridge and my experience with them this summer. I will continue to photograph and document my travels so that you may all share this experience with me.

Combating Gender-Based Violence in Guatemala

Combating Gender-Based Violence in Guatemala

Earlier this spring, gender-based violence in Guatemala came to the public’s attention…again. Unfortunately, such violence is not new to Guatemala, and it is a reality many of our clients face.

According to a 2012 Small Arms Survey, gender-based violence is at “epidemic levels” in Guatemala. The survey ranked Guatemala third in the killings of women worldwide. According to the United Nations, an average of two women are murdered in Guatemala each day.

There are many reasons women face such high rates of gender-based violence in Guatemala. One of the major contributions is the legacy of violence left in place after Guatemala’s 36-year civil war. Throughout decades of war, numerous atrocities were committed against women, who were viewed as the lesser gender. This patriarchal view persists today, manifesting itself in a culture of machismo and acceptance of violence against women.

Most of those who disappeared or were killed during Guatemala’s conflict were indigenous – like most our clients. And even in the years after the war, women and indigenous populations are still victims of violence and terror. Extreme poverty, coupled with this legacy of violence and weak law enforcement and judicial systems, means Guatemala still has one of the highest rates of violent crime in Central America.

Our mission is to empower women in Guatemala to create better futures for themselves, their children, and their communities through microcredit and education. One of the pillars of our nonformal education curriculum is women’s rights. Through these education sessions, we bolster women’s self esteem and increase their knowledge of their basic rights. We want our clients to feel empowered to challenge harmful social norms and become engaged as role models of positive change.

Otilia Margarita Sánchez López (in photo above, on left) is a Friendship Bridge client who faced abuse and neglect from her father when she was a young girl. Today, through the loans, education, and services Friendship Bridge has offered her, she is a successful, empowered entrepreneur. Otilia is even serving as a role model for her sister, who has recently exited a psychologically abusive relationship.

Gender-based violence is a pervasive issue, but it can be eliminated. We empower women to stand up against violent crimes against them and advocate for positive change in their communities and nation.

International Day of Families

International Day of Families

This Friday, May 15, is the International Day of Families. This year’s theme is gender equality and children’s rights. Globally, discrimination against women is often built into legal frameworks and government policies. Sometimes this can manifest itself in familial violence, whether physical or psychological. In other cases it means denial of access to education – for both women and their children. It could also mean malnutrition, little or no access to healthcare, and a host of other harsh realities.

We can’t deny these sobering facts, but we continue to be committed to changing them.

Our loan products…are promoting gender equality by giving women access to financial services. These loans help women build their businesses, keep their children in school, and invest in health.

Our nonformal education program…is giving women more confidence to build their businesses, know their rights, and care for their families.

Our Health for Life program…is bringing preventative healthcare and health education to rural, indigenous women who are traditionally underserved by Guatemala’s healthcare system.

As we reflect on this year’s of International Day of Families, we’re standing with families in Guatemala and around the world. We’re standing for gender equality, empowerment, and the elimination of poverty. Will you stand with us to help make these things a reality?

Thanks for making our 25th Anniversary Gala a success!

Thanks for making our 25th Anniversary Gala a success!

Mother’s Day is just around the corner. At Friendship Bridge we celebrate women every day – women as mothers, sisters, wives, and entrepreneurs. This Mother’s Day, consider honoring mothers in Guatemala with a gift to Friendship Bridge. Your Mother’s Day gift is investment that will change lives and empower more women and their families today and in the future.

A couple weeks ago on April 23, Friendship Bridge celebrated women in a big way at our 25th Anniversary Gala. 330 Friendship Bridge supporters joined us to celebrate our past and look forward to our future. You can enjoy photos from the event by clicking on this link. The evening commemorated the foundation built by Friendship Bridge founders Ted and Connie Ning, as well as all of our past board presidents. We were also excited to welcome, from Guatemala, Friendship Bridge Communications Coordinator Marta Julia Ixtuc and Facilitator (Loan Officer) Sara Par to this year’s Gala (both pictured above, in yellow and orange). Sara serves over 560 clients and manages a portfolio of $157,000 with a repayment rate of 99.75%.

We raised over $125,000 at this year’s Gala. In order to reach our $25,000 matching grants we need to raise an additional $5,000. Would you consider partnering with us this Mother’s Day to reach this goal and empower more Guatemalan women — most of them mothers —  to build a better future for themselves, their children, and their communities?

Thanks for your part in making our past 25 years impactful and inspiring.

A Look Inside Our Guatemalan Insight Trips: ‘Enchanting, Colorful, Mysterious’

By Jody Nolan, February 2015 Guatemala Insight Trip Attendee

Guatemala is a magical place.  It is enchanting, colorful, and mysterious – in that Latin American surreal way.   It is a land of contrasts that range from the looming backdrop of the steaming volcanoes of Antigua and the indescribably lush and stunning colonial Lake Atitlan region to the complexity of pigments and designs woven into the garments still worn by the thousands of Mayan descendants in every village.   When you combine this astonishing physical and cultural landscape with the mission of Friendship Bridge (FB) – which at its core aspires to educate, give back, and explore – you have ensured an experience that will live forever in your heart.

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Friendship Bridge clients at a Trust Bank meeting
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Stunning scenery of Lake Atitlan

 

 

I signed on for my Insight Trip very late in the game- only three weeks prior to departure date.  I knew peripherally a few of the women who were already going on the trip. They belonged to the Oconomowoc Circle, one of the 12 groups of volunteers across the country who provide their time and talents to supporting FB.  I had seen the lovely “swittens” (mittens made from old sweaters) they make to support FB’s mission, and I knew from past experience that for me personally, my most memorable travels have incorporated a charitable component.

Friendship Bridge is an organization with a stunningly strong and organized infrastructure.   Their mission is sound and inspired, and their support staff is stellar – both in Guatemala and in the Denver offices. I don’t think there was anyone in my group who was not astonished at how well organized every detail of our Insight Trip was. And all of the women on this trip were interesting, friendly, committed, and fun to be with.

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Insight Trip Attendees

 

 

A sampling of fond memories….. riding in cattle trucks and by tuk-tuks; the incomparable textiles – (gotta see ‘em to believe ‘em); the gratitude expressed to us by the women who are served by FB and witnessing the training and support they receive monthly; our accommodations in Panajachel overlooking Lake Atitlan; Marta Julia’s smile and sense of humor; huevos bien divorciados; the sense of rich yet turbulent history that fills the air; meeting and making new friends.

-Jody Nolan, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin