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International Women’s Day 2021

This International Women’s Day, World Neighbors (WN) is excited to celebrate the success of our partnership with The Starbucks Foundation.  In 2018, WN received a generous grant from The Starbucks Foundation to work with farmers in Huehuetenango, Guatemala — a coffee growing area in the Western mountains.


Our first grant started in 2015 in Solola and the Chortí regions and then extended to Huehuetenango in 2018, with a three-year project that ended at the end of 2020.  Both grants focused on improving the living conditions and livelihoods of coffee growing communities.  In Huehuetenango, the initial goal was to work with 3,000 rural families in 30 coffee-growing communities, but we ended up surpassing all the initial goals despite the pandemic!

Through training and mentoring in Farmer Field Schools, nearly 3,500 families learned new skills, improved their living conditions and brought in more income.  One of the first activities was the development of savings and credit groups to help women save money for investment and to help their families.  Twenty-five groups were created with the help of 184 members.  The women in the groups learned to save their funds and loan to each other.  They also learned key financial skills such as budget preparation, bookkeeping and managing a cooperative loan system.

Empowering small business owners is a key component of all WN programs throughout the world.  In Guatemala, after the trainings, 675 families established poultry farms and 848 built vegetable gardens for their own consumption and for selling excess crops.  These efforts have not only helped provide food security, but have also helped generate income to send children to school.


To improve the health of families, 485 smokeless stoves were installed in homes.  These stoves require far less wood for fuel and they greatly reduce respiratory diseases that primarily affect women and children who spend more time near the stoves.  Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs have also changed the lives of these families in Huehuetenango.  So far, 275 families have increased access to safe water using biosand water filters.  These families are now teaching their neighbors how to install the filters.  In addition, 75 families have learned how to use grey water filters and are reusing this water to irrigate their vegetable gardens.


Through these programs focusing on WASH, WN has also formed relationships with the area schools to implement clean water tanks, lavatories and smokeless stoves.  With the help of local health centers, measures are now in place to thwart stunting and malnutrition.  WN plans to stay in these communities for another six to seven years beyond the period of The Starbucks Foundation grant.  As part of our methodology, WN will continue to work with these 3,500 families to ensure that the changes that we have helped instill remain for the long-term and continue to expand to neighboring communities.


This grant was made possible by the generous support of The Starbucks Foundation.  The contents are the responsibility of World Neighbors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Starbucks Foundation.


Photo 1: Ingrid Ordones, from the El Carpintero savings and credit group, with her artisan pottery.

Photo 2: Claudia Ramos, from La Cruz, using a bio-sand water filter.

Photo 3: Porfilia Ramos, from La Cruz, with her organic fertilizer made from vermi-compost.

Photo 4: Rosanio Argueta, a carpenter in the Chiantla community, with his chicken farm.

Photo 5: Claudia Ramos, from La Cruz, drinking water filtered through her bio-sand filter.

Photo 6: Two students outside their school in Atitlan.

Photo 7: Marina Celerina, from Cerro de Oro, teaching how to install biosand water filters.

Photo 8: Maricela López, from Los Alisos, secures food for her family and generates income-growing vegetables.

Photo 9: Porfilia Ramos, from La Cruz, presents her smokeless stove.