And so our Guatemalan journey with Gene Medina continues.   In this next segment of our journey we will visit two microcredit projects villages near Retalhuleu, Guatemala.

We had an opportunity to observe Solidarity and Development’s {the Rotary sponsored Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)} microcredit program and the process of monthly repayment.

This program 16 microcredit groups each group comprised of approximately of 15-20 women. Each woman decides on the annual amount she wishes to borrow and then used the funds to prices products for resale (buy low, sell higher).  For example, some women buy chicken eggs, young chicks, cosmetics, piglets, etc and then resale them.  They then repay 12th of the loan amount at 1% interest.  The monthly repayment calls for repayment on the loans principal (approximately 1 12th+ a portion for personal savings and a small portion (the 1%) for the group pool.  The latter is used for group or member emergencies or special issues the group decides upon.

For example, the typical annual long is 8000 quetzals (8000/8= $1000 USD) these funds are used to purchase and resale chicken eggs every week during the year.  In the end, the 667Q ($83) monthly can become 1200Q ($150) and they can use the net profit ($67) for family food and the education of their children.  


Typical village -  Guatemalan Village Classroom

 It is important to know that “while public education in Guatemala is theoretically free, even public school students are required to pay relatively high registration fees, all material costs including textbooks, and any transportation costs. They are also frequently obligated to contribute to building maintenance funds. To make matters worse, many of the families sacrifice to send their children to public schools that offer only a sub-standard level of education. Students are likely to find overcrowded classrooms in understaffed, poorly supervised schools”. It can cost families up to $100 per year for uniforms, books, supplies, school maintenance and transportation. . If the average male worker earns the equivalent of $250 USD/month the additional.

On Tuesday, we visited the next village and attended a microcredit team meeting at Aurla’s home and observed another team of 16 women involved in the process. This time we had an opportunity to hear from individual members of the group. They are incredible people, committed to their families welfare and the education of their children.

Their child’s education is the central theme of their parental work and commitment.


 Aurla’s Home where we attended a microcredit group meeting (note the turkey in the foreground)  -  Quite the contrast to the place where Rotarians stayed for the night.

In the next segment or episode of our journey we will visit San Lucas de Toliman, a village on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala (See bottom left of map).  I hope you enjoy these brief snapshots of the journey and will “tune in” for the episodes to come:  San Lucas de Toliman. Lake Atitlan and its stoves, eco-toilets and washings stations, the Wakami village of Concepcion and its necklace makers, the Rio Dulce villages of Cuarto Cayos, Aqua Caliente, Tablitas and Naciamento.  Enjoy your commitment, involvement and support of our Rotary mission.

Watch for our next segment of the journey—Lake Atitlan Villages