Our Newest Centre is Now Training Rural Women
We are excited to share that the Guatemala Vocational Training Centre inauguration ceremony was successfully hosted on April 30th, 2022. The centre is located in the remote Rural Ixil Mayan Region of Quiché, Guatemala. Our entire team at Barefoot College International takes pride in this momentous event. The centre enables us to further decentralize our work and train more indigenous women locally.
The ceremony took place on a gloriously sunny day, brimming with energy and anticipation. The centre, in the northwestern highlands of Guatemala, takes 8 hours to reach by car from the capital. Everyone from all walks of life congregated to make the opening a truly monumental occasion. Most importantly, several Solar Mamas from Guatemala who were trained in India in 2012, 2015 and 2020, attended.
The centre’s opening was carefully organized and established through 7 years of tireless collective work. It gives our team the capacity to train local indigenous Guatemalan and Central American women. It will be a place of technical and livelihood training for at least 16 women per term. Educational focuses include solar engineering, agri-livelihoods and Enriche, our tailored entrepreneurial and awareness curriculum.
Global Support and Admiration
The inauguration was well attended by representatives from the Government of Guatemala including
Mr. Fernando Escalante, Deputy Minister of Economy from Guatemala, Mr. Giovanni Castillo, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; His Excellency, Mr. Manoj Kumar Mohapatra and the Ambassador of India to Guatemala. The Ambassador gave a powerful speech of support and admiration via zoom from Guatemala City.
Also present was Gabriela Gil, the Representative of the World Food Programme (WFP) in Guatemala. The WFP has been working with us in the country since 2017. Arcadio Galindo, director of the Chajulense Association, is another key partner of BCI. Finally, local authorities, farmers, and indigenous Solar Mamas- beneficiaries of our work- were also in attendance. They are the sole proprietors of our mission and purpose at the centre.
The inauguration was a 4-hour event. A tour of the Training Centre kicked off the day, where dormitories, classrooms, the kitchen and dining hall could be observed by the guests. A presentation of BCI programs by our staff who attended followed.
Coming Together as Equals
For lunch, a traditionally prepared Ixil Mayan dish, BoxBol, was served. This was paired with a traditional handmade Indian snack, Pakoras with mint chutney. Our livelihood-derived coffee was served along with caramel ice cream that was produced by local goat-raising partners.
The event was a blend of diplomatic city dwellers, local Mayans, Solar Mamas and local social work organizations. They all enjoyed sharing, learning, conversing and eating together at the same table. Equality and humble mindsets prevailed throughout the event.
A Sustainable, Comfortable, Beautiful Centre
Nestled within 4 hectares of land, 3 of which are forested with local flora, the centre can host at least 16 women and 8 staff. It fosters a comfortable and familiar landscape for the women who leave their communities to train with us. It’s often the first time they leave their communities, to stay at the centre for up to 5 months at a time. Local foods are prepared to ensure that the trainees feel at home and maintain healthy, environmentally-friendly diets.
The opening of our first Latin American training Centre is the beginning of a new chapter for our organization in this hemisphere. It strives to serve local rural communities with a conscientious and regenerative-focused current running through each program. We aspire to honour the rich biodiversity of the region and its ancient Mayan indigenous cultural heritage. These communities are the reason we operate.
Rural Women at the Heart of all That We Do…
In an area where high rates of poverty are prevalent, there is brimming potential for communities to uplift themselves into a prosperous tomorrow. Challenges such as poor access to education and limited electricity can be alleviated over time. Offering inclusive, relevant skills and livelihood capacity building, especially for women is an excellent first step.
Women are often the least served in rural societies. It is of utmost importance to provide them with opportunities to shift the gender disparity. Educating a woman leads to educating whole communities as they are eager to share whatever knowledge they are given. They share with other women, with men and with their children. In this sense, educating women is not only the right thing to do- it’s the best educational investment.
We would like to thank our team members who attended and made the ceremony such a profound success. Lawrence, Anu, Manu, Bárbara, Sue, Aura, Rodrigo and those in the international team who have worked tirelessly during the last year to achieve this immense goal. We are deeply grateful for all of the support that made this dream a reality.
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