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).
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.