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  • Abeja

Updated: Oct 5, 2021




So, is this a business, a ministry, or a non-profit, and why flowers?


The purpose of everything Abeja does is to see women step into their destiny as women of valor, joining God in actively pursuing restoration and experiencing shalom. Shalom is a state of wholeness, or of being complete. The ancient Hebrew meaning of shalom was ‘to make something whole.’ Not just regarding practical restoration of things that were lost or stolen. But with an overall sense of fulness and completeness in mind, body and estate.


So Abeja is a business with a ministerial purpose; all of the profits go back to services to support the women. The backbone and heart of everything we do is centered around seeing women healthy, empowered, and understanding their Heavenly Father, who's heart for them is for good, full of abundance of life and hope. We begin with safe, dignified employment, but it's so much more than just a job! A job with Abeja includes Bible studies and spiritual mentorship, education and skills training, and social services support.


As we explained in an earlier post, life for women in Guatemala is difficult and dangerous, and more often than not, women are left feeling vulnerable and hopeless. It is easy to think that God is removed from the plight of women and does not care in light of all of the pain they experience. That is not the case, however, as He is intimately involved, sees, and His intent is to empower women to thrive. Just as He appeared to Hagar in the desert and saved her as she was about to die, she was left with the knowledge that He is a God who saw her “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me” (Gen. 16:13).


WHY FLOWERS?


The paradox of Jesus’ ever present love and sustaining within the pain unfolds even deeper when there is the realization that God is in everything that exists. He is in every inhalation and exhalation of breath, in the details of creation, in every flower, in the soft play of light in a morning sunrise. When the world begins to take on this new perspective, expecting His intimate involvement, it is then that transformation is experienced.


Even within the brokenness of the world that which is full of pain, injustice, and heartbreak, He has woven reflections of Himself into every detail. Leaves on trees reflect his creativity and imagination. Birdsong, in its high and low dance of tones demonstrates the attention and importance of the creator in every layered element of sight, sound, and touch. He chose to surround humanity with these things that hold His creative fingerprint, and awareness of Him in each detail awakens communion with Him, and intimacy. He created humans to physically respond and receive peace when surrounded by His creation.


Beauty can be found in nature despite the brokenness of this world. Nature comfortingly shares reminders that God is here, so close, and even within the pain, He designed elements for humanity’s wellbeing and joy. Within this appreciation of beauty and awareness of Him in nature, humans experience connection to Him, and can receive healing and transformation. God strategically created beauty, nature and creativity with the ability to transform and heal, and He is there within creation.


God created nature with the capacity to minister healing and experience His love. At Abeja, we are seeing God utilizing nature, specifically flowers, to speak life to brokenness. We are literally finding God in the context of flowers, how He painted detailed love onto each petal. This reality of contextualizing him in creation has rippled outward to the women, and as they work, they find Him as I work alongside one another with flowers. We are seeing renewal and healing reflected in the countenance of each of the women as they appreciate each flower. We design bouquets on a weekly basis, and the joy and peace the women describe feeling through their work is palpable.



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  • Abeja


Now that we have given a little bit of background, let's share more about the basics of what we do!


The name Abeja is symbolic of the life and abundance that God demonstrates through nature. Abeja means 'bee' in Spanish. Bees symbolize community, brightness, personal power, hard work and feminine energy. Bees bring life to flowers, and flowers give life back to them. This beautiful interactive relationship mirrors the heart and purpose of what this project is creating. God desires restoration and true shalom for his children. Through time being surrounded and nurtured by nature while working with flowers, there is a great potential for healing and renewal, meeting him in his creation.


Abeja Flowers began with the ultimate mission being to have an independent vehicle that will support women around Antigua Guatemala through employment and support services.

Abeja offers unique high-end floral bouquets and wedding and event decoration. The business filled a hole in the local market and the customer base is quickly expanding. Through an initial pilot project we have proven with confidence that by only offering one design of bouquets one day a week for sale, we are able to sell sufficient bouquets in one week to support the employment of two women for an entire month. We are receiving increasing interest in floral design services for events and large businesses. This wealth creation model has the ability to expand and act as a self -sustaining vehicle to employ and empower women locally and impact long-term change, independent of donations.


The purpose behind everything Abeja does and the backbone of all policies and procedures is to see women flourish as God intended them to live. We are in the process of building a wellness program that will be the heart of the business. The program is committed to coming alongside and holistically supporting women. The program is centered around three main pillars:


1. Spiritual Growth: The core of everything we do is circles around spiritual health and growing in a knowledge of the heart of the Father. When women understand who God says they are, transformation takes place.

2. Employment: Dignified, safe employment where women and their skills are valued and expanded.

3. Education: Women are linked with opportunities to learn based on their specific goals (literacy, English, skills training).


Having the ability to invest in the mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of each woman opens the door to offer so much more than just employment; there can be a joining together toward Christ inspired transformational renewal that has the ability to improve their futures.


The culture of this project is not paternalistic, it is partnering together, committing to a more hopeful future for all involved. Women hold the keys to their own empowerment. As they come to an increased understanding of their spiritual worth, and are supported with safe opportunities, their personal situations will be transformed and they will be equipped to bring hope and life into their communities.


All of these different elements of Abeja converge with the desire to create a holistic support system that engenders self-confidence and reaching their own personal goals. The women have a voice in every element of the development of the business. The business strategy will be impacted by their own personal life situations, styles of problem solving, and decision-making. This is the long-term vision, that the women will be in complete control of every part of the business, empowered and informed, with access to the knowledge and outlets they need in order to grow into a large floral producer in Guatemala and beyond.

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  • Abeja

We are excited to have a little place on the internet where we can share more about what goes on behind the scenes in our women's empowerment project in Antigua, Guatemala. Come get to know us a little better.



WHO ARE WE?


Hope and Life Guatemala has been working in Guatemala for over five years. Through experience working with children, food programs, and health initiatives, one common thread kept emerging; sustainability. Guatemala is a country full of instability and corruption. Within this society, women are frequently in vulnerable situations; without an advocate and unable to support their children.


As Deutsche Well (2021) reports, "The number of women murdered in Guatemala has been hitting record levels amid the restrictions on movement imposed during the coronavirus pandemic. At least one woman has been falling victim to such a murder every day. For many Guatemalan women, mere survival has become a challenge". (In Guatemala, Women Fear for Their Lives)


These women hold an extreme desire for the best for their families, like all of us. The reality of life here does not support or encourage their thriving and success. We spent time holding focus groups and community meetings, talking with one another, and trying to humbly understand how we could partner to support these women achieve what they really wanted. What was it that they wanted? Work. Plain and simple, that was what kept coming up; "All I need is a work, any job, that way I can feed my children and send them to school".


Within situations such as these there are so many needs it is overwhelming, and it is hard to know where to start. Each woman has stories of abuse, fear and manipulation, lack of self-worth, and feelings of extreme fear for themselves and their children. Daily life is unstable and women feel powerless. The best way to start was to listen, to see and hear what the ladies were asking for. It became clear the only option was to start with the most pressing need; help provide safe, dignified work. These women are not weak; they are intelligent and resourceful, just asking for opportunity.


As Duflo (2012) clearly demonstrates in the article “Women Empowerment and Economic Development,” “There is a bidirectional relationship between economic development and women’s empowerment defined as improvising the ability of women to access the constituents of development- in particular health, education, earning opportunities, rights, and political participation” (p. 1053).


Women having the God-given capacity to restore families and communities is a part of their spiritual heritage. They are hard-wired to nurture, protect, and invest in their children. In development studies all around the world it has been repeatedly proven that when women are empowered, transformation takes place, and the entire nation thrives.


It is easy to think that God is removed from the plight of women and does not care in light of all of the pain they experience. That is not the case, Jesus was a lover of women, and championed them wherever he went. The Father is intimately involved, sees them, and his intent is to empower women to thrive. Just as he appeared to Hagar in the desert and saved her as she was about to die, she was left with the knowledge that he is a God who saw her “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me” (Gen. 16:13).


ABEJA FLOWERS


So it was at this intersection where it was clear there was a need for employment, as well as spiritual and wellness support. The idea came to start a flower business that can create jobs, where women can work with flowers and be ministered to at the same time? What if a flower business could be a welcoming gateway for women to experience God through nature by working with flowers?


Abeja Flowers began with the ultimate mission being to have an independent vehicle that will support women around Antigua Guatemala through employment and support services. The idea was to come up with a simple model that could be replicated and implemented with other communities in the future. Starting with offering opportunities for employment to address immediate need, we plan to expand the holistic element of our business to offer wrap-around support services as part of the future program.


Abeja is not charity, it is not aid. Guatemala is overflowing with NGOs, aid, and ministries, and nothing is improving long-term to reduce poverty. The vision for this business is one of ministry; full of healing, restoration, acting like the church is supposed to be. It is my desire for the community that will be built through this business to be one that reflects the all-encompassing heart of the Father for life, abundance, and restoration. The goal is to start from a practical place of offering employment for women, and build an environment of sensitivity to the Holy Spirit that will inspire empowerment and the thriving of everyone involved.


Stay tuned for more posts! We want to use this space to get more personal, and share special stories of the ladies involved, life in Guatemala, the exciting things God is doing, and how you can join us.

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