On November 27, while Ricardo and his wife, Eva María, were visiting family in Massachusetts, Ginny and Fern met with them. We discussed the village of Chajmaic and the “Water for Life” project.
You might remember that Ricardo and his team had visited the mayor of the nearby municipality, Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, one year ago. The mayor had not only agreed, but one month after the meeting, had allocated funds and, when Ricardo and his team visited in May 2018, had begun building a pump house in Chajmaic. This saved our project $80,000 in start-up funding, using the government’s big machinery and funding. However, it was only through visiting the village in May that Ricardo knew about this improvement.
What we discussed last week with Ricardo and Eva María is that, as this is now an election year, we need to be careful about being connected with the municipal government. This is because of this historical relationship between the government and the villages in Guatemala. If we are associated with the government, we would likely be seen by the villagers as swaying the election results. This would make us lose trust with the village elders and the villagers.
As the mayor is seeking re-election, it is possible that she will continue the water project. However, at this time, we need to have a waiting period in order not to derail our safety or the project until after the election, in August 2019.
In the meantime, Sowing Opportunities plans to:
- Stay in touch with our contact people in the village to assess the current situation
- Possibly visit the village
- Engage the people of the village to find out what they want
- Do research into the most cost-effective measures for reaching our goals by learning what is done in other Guatemalan NGOs
- Raise funds through large foundations and partnership with U.S. corporations involved with corporate social responsibility (CSR)
- Not begin the project until we have a commitment of continued funds
Tomorrow (December 10) Fern travels to Guatemala for two weeks to explore options for moving forward. A major goal that is planned is to meet with a lawyer to develop a branch of Sowing Opportunities in Guatemala.