Guatemala Bienestar

guatemala

 

Click to read:
Bienestar Newsletter January 2017

Bienestar Newsletter February 2016  


 

Nelson United Church links to the people of Guatemala through a unique initiative


Guatemala Bienestar 
Nelson United Church-Guatemala Alliance
for Community Well-being

Who We Are:

The NUC-GACW (Guatemala Bienestar) is a project of the Nelson United Church (NUC) and others who wish to support locally identified and managed social and health promotion projects from Guatemala that contribute to community wellness through improved health, education, capacity building, identity validation and self-worth of the people.  

weaver

Guatemalan woman weaving outside of her home, 2009

Background:
Members of Nelson United Church have a longstanding history of active involvement in local and international initiatives that speak to the biblical call to love Yahweh with all of our hearts, and to actively live our faith by engaging in actions that both directly care for those who are oppressed and marginalized, and challenge the very forces that create such oppression.  Indeed, this bold commitment of faith is found in the church’s purpose statement that states, “We dare to live the way of Jesus, embodying the love of God.”

Our church’s charism of Christian love in action is in keeping with the beliefs, written creed, and policy statements of the United Church of Canada on social, political, and ecological concerns, both locally and globally. At both national and regional levels, the United Church of Canada has been in solidarity with Guatemala since the mid 80’s focusing on accompaniment of refugees during exile and the repatriation process, gender justice, enactment of the 1996 Peace Accords, and respect for Indigenous rights and culture.

 Dental health promotion activity with children Santiago, Atitlan, 2008

Dental health promotion activity with children Santiago, Atitlan, 2008

Locally, for the past several years, we have collaborated with Selkirk College to support their international nursing practice experience to Guatemala through prayer, financial support, providing space and volunteering at their Beans and Rice fundraising dinners. More recently, Caritas hosted an event with Julio Cochoy, an Indigenous Guatemalan who spoke of his personal journey of reconciliation, and sold beautifully handcrafted jewelry made by a group of widows from the Maya Mam Women’s cooperative, an initiative that is allowing them to live with greater dignity.

Through these connections, we have seen an exceptional level of capacity, vision, and willingness by the people to work for improved wellness within their communities. What is often missing is the capital that would enable people to realize their own locally defined vision of social and economic development. Upon reflection, we decided to respond to this need by creating a project with others in the local area that we are calling the Nelson United Church – Guatemala Alliance for Community Wellbeing, affectionately to be known as Guatemala Bienestar (“Bienestar” is Spanish for “well-being”).

The aims of the project include experiencing a deepened sense of faith through connection with members of our global family in Guatemala, and realization of our purpose as the congregation of the Nelson United Church; a deepened sense of accompaniment by both the church and the people of Guatemala as we support each other on the journey of life; and improved health, engagement of women within society, completion of postsecondary education; and economic self-sufficiency in partner communities in Guatemala.

 Students brainstorming during sexual health promotion workshop, 2011

Students brainstorming during sexual health promotion workshop, 2011

Guatemala Bienestar is managed by a board composed of a minimum of four members, one of whom will be an appointed member of the NUC. The board will review projects for funding on 1 March and 1 September for a 12 month project agreement.  An annual accounting of all incoming donations, funded projects, and summary of selected projects will be submitted to the NUC council for year-end accounting as required by the church.

We look forward to serving as a bridge between the people of Guatemala, our congregation, and the wider Kootenay community.

 


We invite you to support this very important project