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Guatemala Community Projects

  • Dozens of youngsters in the Santa Rosa Diocese, such as Cindy and Alix, have gained from our scholarship support, which has come from a wide range of parishes, schools and individuals in Metuchen.
  • Assessing work in San Antonito, Guatemala.
  • Map of Diocese of Santa Rosa, GT
  • John Paul II colony, San Antonito, GT
  • Water is an issue in Santa Rosa, GT.
  • Maintenance oversight of the water tower in San Antonito

These CCST initiatives are the fruit of the Global Solidarity Partnership between the Diocese of Metuchen and the Diocese of Santa Rosa of Lima, Guatemala, and which ran from 2004-14.  Since 2014, CCST supports community-led projects within the Santa Rosa Diocese.  These projects have in common basic principles: leadership from the local community, application of Catholic social teaching and addressing human development or basic social needs in the community.

Three community projects are active:

1) Food for School Scholarship Program

2) St. Peter’s University Hospital Health Project

3) Amistad y Fe Microfinance Project

1. "FOOD FOR SCHOOL" SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

The Scholarship program, established in 2008 by high school students from the Diocese of Metuchen, is an important lifeline for many poor families.  Led by Estela Cristales, the program directly helps 80 students and their families in 7 villages. The goal is to increase to 95 students at the start of the school year in January 2016 (from the original 11 students in 2008).

The scholarship program provides school supplies, books, medicines, and other basic necessities, as well as promotes service to the community and the active participation of parents supporting their children's education.

The school year begins in January and ends in October.  During the vacation months of November and December, children of all ages typically help their families earn income by working in the fields and harvesting crops (coffee, corn, beans.)

There are two tiers of Scholarship:

  • $360 is a full year for a student in grades 1 thru 9
  • $600 is a full year for a student in grades 10 thru 12+  (Note: for High school in Guatemala, called "Diversificado", a student chooses a "major," and then follows a prescribed curriculum; the number of years varies with each major (called a Carrera).  The increased scholarship helps to cover additional costs of tuition, travel, snack as students must leave their villages to go to High School.  
  • Parishes and individuals can offer full or partial sponsorships.  Any amount is helpful and 100% goes to Guatemala. 
  • Estela provides on-going support to the children and their families throughout the year through home visits and training programs..

For more information, contact CCST Guatemala Scholarship Specialist Trish Scalese at pscalese@borromeo.org

To contribute, send a check (with Guatemala Scholarship in the memo field):
Marianne Majewski, Catholic Charities, 319 Maple St., Perth Amboy, NJ 08861

2. ST. PETER'S UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL GUATEMALA HEALTH PROJECT

"St. Peter's has created a successful model of access to quality primary care and education for co-madronas (mid-wives) and vigilantes (community health workers) in partnership with the Diocese of Santa Rosa. We have had many positive outcomes from our almost decade of building and maintaining the program.  The underpinning of this project was to provide access to health care and education, which we have accomplished to a significant degree."  Dr. Bipin Patel, chief of pediatrics, St. Peter's University Hospital, New Brunswick.

When Bishop Paul Bootkoski led the inaugural ambassadorial delegation to Santa Rosa, Guatemala in January 2004, it became clear that health care was a diocesan need in Santa Rosa.  The Bishop met with leaders of the St. Peter's University Hospital to develop a hospital-sponsored initiative.  The initial focus was maternal and neonatal/child mortality. 

The team identified an area in coastal Santa Rosa that had an overwhelming lack of access to basic health care.  Using the town of Chiquimulilla as a base, St. Peter's developed a five-clinic project to help serve the need for comprehensive health care in the department.  As part of the project, the hospital purchased a truck to transport clinic workers to and from the various clinics.

A major goal of the project was to build a high level of health awareness for pregnant women.  Each clinic is staffed with a physician and nursing staff to diagnose and treat routine health issues.  Education and training is also provided for these levels: physician, non-physician clinic staff and community workers (midwives, vigilantes).  The focus is geared toward maternal and fetal mortality.

3. QUEENSHIP OF MARY "Amistad y Fe" MICROFINANCE PROJECT
(Adapted from Queenship of Mary’s parish website)

The spirit of global solidarity has united the parishes of Queenship of Mary and Santa Cruz.  The parish has shared many stories and experiences, and have established a true friendship with the people of La Morena, a village within the parish of Santa Cruz, Chiquimulilla. We have extended the work of our partnership through the implementation of Amistad y Fe , a microfinance program.        

Amistad y Fe is a program of economic empowerment for the people of La Morena implemented by the Queenship of Mary / Santa Cruz Partnership. Friendship and Faith, the name of the fund translated into English, is the underlying principle that guides this microfinance program and brings our communities together.      

Amistad y Fe grew out of the expressed desire of the people of La Morena to be given the chance to grow and succeed through their own effort, creativity, and hard work. A microfinance plan was created in response to this desire by the Partnership and set into motion with the enthusiastic endorsement of the community leadership of La Morena. This program is intended to carefully foster this vision through microlending, formation and support. It is also intended to specifically support the longer range goals of education, health and the vital role of women in the community.       

Amistad y Fe is guided by a Leadership Body that consists of representatives from Queenship of Mary, Santa Cruz, La Morena, CCST (Catholic Charities Solidarity Team) and both pastors. For more information, contact

Microfinance in La Morena
Historically, private lending institutions and government agencies have not provided financial services to potential borrowers in low-income areas, or they have done so at a very high interest rate and with great risk to the investor. Without access to financial services, the people of La Morena lack the resources to improve their standard of living.

We recognize the inherent value of the community, and the potential success that can be achieved through the creativity and work of each person. Microfinance loans through Amistad y Fe provide opportunities to our brothers and sisters in La Morena to use their skills and initiative to grow and succeed through their own efforts, and to become economically self- reliant. Businesses started or expanded by loan recipients also empower the community at large through increased employment and stimulation of local commerce. Improved family finances will allow better access to education, health care and food.        

An Investment in Faith    
Your investment in Amistad y Fe will enhance our mutually beneficial relationship with the people of La Morena and make substantial improvements in the quality of life for both their community and ours. Through a collective and individual willingness to invest in this partnership, our parish affirms our Catholic vision of global solidarity. Further, through this investment the development and empowerment of the universal human family is fostered as we also seek to promote justice and equality throughout the world.

For general Guatemala questions, please contact Sr. Ruth Bolarte at rbolarte@diometuchen.org.

 

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