Our community, La Esperanza (“Hope” in English), is a squatter settlement south of Guatemala City. La Esperanza and its surroundings were established by a migration of approximately 40,000 displaced people in 1984. These settlers had been driven from rural areas during Guatemala’s brutal 42-year Civil War.
Red Zone Collection
In 1989 a group of Guatemalan and American women began a baby-weighing program to address infant malnutrition in La Esperanza. Soon after, a handcraft-making program was launched. The craft program sought to generate sustainable and independent sources of income for the Guatemalan women, as well as provide a financial base for the development of other programs. The craft program eventually grew into what is now UPAVIM Crafts (Artesanias), a business that sells a variety of handcrafted goods to national and international markets.
“We are a group of 75 women who live in the marginalized community of La Esperanza in Zone 12 of Guatemala City.
We are all mothers and homemakers. Some of us are widows, some of us have been abandoned by our husbands or we confront alcoholism and/or domestic violence in our families. Many of us are the sole providers of economic support for our families.”
Women Dedicated to Making a Difference
In the beginning, La Esperanza was made up of tin, plastic, wood, and cardboard shacks. There was no sewage system, electricity, or potable water. Since then, La Esperanza has transformed into a viable community with cement block houses, underground sewage pipes, and other basic services. These improvements were carried out by the active participation of the community and with support from international organizations such as UNICEF.
Despite the progress, La Esperanza continues to suffer from many of the social problems that characterize marginalized populations like gang and domestic violence, illiteracy, unemployment, alcoholism, and malnutrition. Depression, fear, and apathy pervade our community. Many families have disintegrated. Many mothers are the sole providers for their families. Often children are left without a lasting positive male presence. Lack of financial resources, proper supervision, and basic community services stifle the growth and development of our children.
We are dedicated to tackling these issues in our community with employment opportunities for women and our health and educational services.
“Empowered Women Grow Communities”
UPAVIM’s mission: to support the women of La Esperanza in their fight for better economic, healthcare and educational opportunities for themselves, their families and their community.