A woman showcases her coffee plants

A SowHope team recently had the opportunity to visit Guatemala with a good friend of SowHope, Bev Abma. Bev has visited over 90 countries, traveling extensively in the developing world. She also volunteers for SowHope, helping out at almost every mailing and even recruiting 3-5 neighbors each time. So, when Bev approached Mary Dailey Brown with the idea of visiting Guatemala and introducing her to potential partners, Mary was interested.

Mary and SowHope Board Vice Chair Beth Leeson traveled with Bev to Guatemala in late January. Bev introduced them to exceptional organizational leaders, who in turn took them to visit indigenous women’s groups. The SowHope team met with and observed groups at different stages of organization for their collective best interests. Some were informally formed, learning how to operate as a group. Others were formed into cooperatives with distinct rules and goals. The highest level, and most sophisticated group, was a cooperative that joined together to become a federation. At that level, they had real economic power due to the sheer number of products they produced.

A theme of conversation was the lingering pain of a 30-year civil war. It left far-reaching negative effects, especially on the indigenous population. Another topic brought up during the meetings was the “machismo” attitude of many men in the country – an attitude that holds women back from achieving their potential. We hope to impact this through future partnership in Guatemala.