The Foundation continues to support scholarships and the Maternal Child Nutrition Program for Garden’s Edge/Qachuu Aloom in Guatemala. Emily would love the combination of education, health and sustainable farming that these projects combine! Below Is Sarah’s report for the year:
“Eight young people, sons and daughters of members of Qachuu Aloom, benefited from the Scholarship Program in 2020 and despite the fact that it was a difficult year, the youth took great pains to show up. They struggled to access on-line classes and, but still, 100% managed to finish the school year and most importantly, they, and their families, are healthy.
Another positive outcome of the lockdown was that our scholarship students were able to support their little brothers and sisters with their homework. This was a strategy they came up with since they could not work or gather outside of their homes.
Difficulties :Family incomes were severely impacted by the lockdown when transportation, shops and markets were shut down in March 2020. It was very difficult for the students and parents to adapt to remote and on-line classes. Families suffered the strain of buying internet cards and most did not have access to smartphones or computers. The students gave talks in their community about COVID safety to help decimate important information about COVID.
Conclusions: The Qachuu Aloom parents and students appreciate all the support provided by The Emily Sandall Foundation so that eight Maya Achi students had the opportunity to further their education and to realize their dreams, even during a pandemic. In these difficult times, they recognize the importance of the scholarship program and see that it is supporting their children to get ahead in their education. They say, “Everything is a sacrifice but if we comply with the COVID protocols, use masks correctly, socially distance and use antibacterial gel we can keep our students in school.” The mothers of our scholarship students thank the Emily Sandall Foundation for their continued support of education. These women are determined not to let their own lack of schooling keep their children from school.
In January, the Scholarship Commission, made up of colleagues from Qachuu Aloom, reviewed several applications and based on an evaluation of the economic situation of each family, they selected three young Maya Achi women, as new scholarship recipients. Leadership Opportunities for Youth in 2021 University interns at Qachuu Aloom are working with scholarship recipients to develop leadership activities for this year. They’ve fired up the radio equipment at Qachuu Aloom with the idea of bringing the scholarship students into the office two at a time to produce podcasts. Another initiative, complimentary to the podcast idea, is to teach youth how to conduct research in their communities with elders, in order to document and report their cultural history.
In May, members from the Qachuu Aloom (QA) staff began working under strict safety conditions in the QA store front and at our food processing center to keep up with the demand for processed Amaranth, basic grains, seeds and plant medicine.
We kept with our values by supporting projects that help the community on multiple levels. We created a monthly voucher program, where each member of QA was provided credit at our storefront to purchase necesities during this difficult time. Instead of handing out food bought at corporate chain stores, we bought supplies made locally in the villages so the project had a multiplier effect. It recirculated money within the local economy through the purchase of staples like healthy food, seeds, soap, hand sanitizer, coffee, hibiscus, medicinal plants, rice, panela (raw sugar), peanut butter, corn, beans, masks, plus the foods made from the Amaranth seeds that QA buys from its members. Most of these products are made at QA, and others are sourced from surrounding communities. In this way, we used the funds from The Emily Sandall
Foundation to both support the local economy and provide emergency food and supplies to families.
Zoel Ramos, from QA shared this story with us about the voucher program. “Something really special happened with the family of Dona Silvia Sic from the community of Chiac. She was one of the first families to receive her monthly basket of corn, beans and other household goods. Instead of eating all of the corn and beans, she planted them and then sold back to QA their excess harvest so that we can distribute more locally grown native corn and beans to our families. She provided an example to other families in other communities who have now begun planting a portion of the grain seeds they receive for consumption.”