Stories of Change

Magdalena (top) and Juana (bottom) are among the women who participate in a CWS-supported greenhouse program in Guatemala. Photos: Bethany Beachum

In Guatemala, our team works with the Conference of Evangelical Churches of Guatemala - known as CIEDEG - to strengthen the food security and income-generating activities of 700 members of local indigenous associations.

Source: CWS Annual Report 2017

Planting better futures in Guatemala

Magdalena Perez Gallego is the coordinator of a greenhouse in her community of Pulay, Nebaj, Guatemala. She and her husband live on the same land they inherited from her in-laws 40 years ago. Their community was heavily affected by Guatemala’s deadly civil war, which raged for 36 years. Most families fled from the armed conflict into the mountains, only returning after the peace accords were signed in 1996.

Outside of her home, Magdalena tends a flourishing garden, with cabbage, greens, medicinal herbs and ornamental flowers. She also works in a CWS-supported greenhouse, where she and other women can apply knowledge and skills that they learned in CWS-supported trainings. Magdalena says that the greenhouse is of great use for growing more delicate vegetables like green pepper, which needs the warmth to survive.

Magdalena and her husband have seven children, three of whom have migrated to the U.S. One of her sons left for the U.S. only three months ago, and they just received word that he arrived and has found work. Magdalena expresses that they have been deeply concerned for him and are now in financial difficulty after paying for his migration. They are grateful for his safe arrival, however, and for good production in the greenhouse and garden that are helping to ease the financial burden.

Meanwhile, in nearby Flores de Turanza, Juana Remundo Velasco is part of a women’s collective greenhouse. Even before she joined, however, she was watching and learning as greenhouses were being built and women were beginning to expand their vegetable production through the project with CWS local partner CIEDEG.

Juana carefully observed how the greenhouses were constructed, and then she and her husband used their own savings to purchase a sheet of plastic in Guatemala City and build a smaller version next to their house. She bought some tomato seedlings and started other vegetables from seed in a small nursery. Now, she cultivates an array of vegetables on her land, including carrots, broccoli, onion and celery.

Eventually, Juana was invited to join a greenhouse through CIEDEG as well, and she continues to cultivate vegetables both collectively and individually in her own greenhouse. Juana’s innovation and enthusiasm are key to the sustainability of expanding healthy food access in Nebaj!

More than 700 women are partnering with CWS and CIEDEG in Guatemala to improve their families’ food security and earn extra income. We are proud to support them as they plant better futures.