Olivia Returns Home

Dear Friends, family and colleagues,

Two weeks ago Olivia and her 2-year-old daughter (see photo) left the safe house in Cobán (see sign over entry) and returned to their village in Chajmaic. During the three months that they stayed in the safe house, they both gained nutrition and medical stability, and Olivia contributed to the community effort at the safe house by participating in the preparation of meals. It was her personal choice to return to her village and resume her life there with her daughter. Her 9-year-old son remains in the safe, stable private home in Cobán.

Our current effort is to complete the work to put Olivia’s land in her name in the village of Chajmaic.  This includes a letter from the COCODES (village leaders) to a civil engineer, a civil engineer’s expenses, a surveyor’s expenses, lawyer’s expenses, documentation, and filing fees.  We expect that this will be completed in early October.  The transfer of funds for this effort (nearly $700) was completed on September 13.  A link to all expenditures is here.

The next step is for Ricardo to travel to the distant town of Fray Bartolomé de las Casas to oversee the name transfer for Olivia’s land, to meet with Lety and Alfonso who are managing the transfer, to check on the wellbeing of Olivia and her 2-year-old daughter, and to view and have face-to-face conversations and negotiations with the owner of the land to rent a portion of it for the chili pepper project for the people of Chajmaic.  Ricardo will negotiate price, size, and length of rental.  The total land size is 52 acres (30 manzanas), but we will start with a much smaller, pilot project – perhaps 8.5 acres (5 manzanas).

The current need is to raise funds to send Ricardo to Fray Bartolomé in the 1st or 2nd week in November.  Because of certain current dangers in the area, it is necessary for Ricardo to travel via Rio Dulce and stay overnight there, traveling to Fray each day.  This circuitous route is a greater distance, but is necessary to ensure his safety and this is paramount to the chili pepper project.  In addition, Ricardo will bring two men with him who will assist with the project and provide a buffer of safety.  The cost of this trip is $4,600 – reduced by 1/4 from the original cost analysis – and will cover 12-13 hours per day, over 7 days for 3 people and 2,340 miles (310 miles each way from Antigua to Rio Dulce, plus 110 miles each way per day from Rio Dulce to Fray).  This total cost includes the costs of travel: gas, hotel, meals, and vehicle.  We currently have 25% towards this goal.  We need to raise $3,500 within the next month.

Ricardo will tell the COCODES that in Year 1, beginning January 2017, we will do a Pilot Project and he plans to organize a cooperative first group of trainees to work the land under the supervision of Ricardo’s agricultural engineer.  For this, we need funding for land rental, equipment, tools, plants, and salaries.  Planting season in Guatemala is February.  The workers will plant seedlings, rather than seeds.

In Year 2, which we expect will begin in January 2018, we will need an increase in funds because we will need more land, equipment, tools, plants, and an increase in the number of workers and therefore, cost of salaries.

If you are interested in donating for the first time to the project or continuing your donations, you can do so through GoFundMe or receive a tax donation by writing a check to SowingOpportunities, via our fiscal agent, Temple Tiferet Shalom of the North Shore, 489 Lowell St., Peabody, MA 01960, USA

Thank you again for your support of this important peace and social justice work.

Fern & Ginny