Our projects are all about exposing Guatemalans of all walks and ages to new ideas and skills that they can learn, develop, and use in future business ventures. Each project is meant to be self-sustaining after an initial investment in equipment, with the produced goods being marketed locally to support new students.
The purpose of this project is to train individuals in beekeeping: how to raise honeybees, harvest honey, and bring it to market. Applicants are provided an initial 5 beehives and honey processing equipment to help them get started, with the expectation that they will then eventually be able to provide 5 hives to the next applicant for the course. The visiting team experiences beekeeping by visiting an apiary and helping with honey extraction.
In 2015 we started the beekeeping program as one of our first projects to help start fruitful small business opportunities for Guatemalans, especially those who had access to land where bees could thrive. We provided the first round of beehives to the course, and helped set up the pay-it-forward structure.enabling new students to get involved in the beekeeping project. This is our first project that has nearly reached a self-sustaining status and fundraising is no longer needed.
The carpentry shop is located in Casa Blessing to teach skills in general carpentry, cabinet making, and wood lathe techniques. Students have been building benches, tables, and picture frames with the potential for selling. Team members help the carpentry instructor and work alongside the students to develop skills in the use of carpentry equipment such as the table saw, measurement devices, a wood lathe etc.
In 2016 we purchased a table saw which sparked the beginning of the carpentry project. Initially we used this to build bee boxes and other equipment for the beekeeping project. Since then the course has expanded to teach theory and safety around the equipment. In 2017, Tom joined the mission to teach more carpentry skills such as using a wood lathe and cabinet making.
Students learn basic welding skills and practices. Team members with welding skills are encouraged to join this project and help teach how to use the equipment and build relationships with the students. Future plans are to build a trailer (Taxi trailer) for use in doing deliveries in town. Welding has been one of the latest projects added.
Students learn basic use of an electric sewing machine and how to do some basic sewing. Sewing machines, initial fabrics and sewing notions are provided for students to learn new and improved skills.
In 2018, two sewing machines were purchased and some introductory sewing classes began. With only 2 days available for this , we quickly realized that we needed much more time to learn the basics. So in 2019, with the purchase of 3 more machines and basic sewing classes for 4 weeks , the students made great progress.
In this course students learn the wisdom of thriftiness, saving, and investing those savings. We teach concepts such as interest, accounting, business types, supply and demand, microcredit, income and expenses and the management of money for profit.
The first year we introduced the concept of saving in a 30 minute presentation which sparked more interest for starting the course the following year. This has expanded to a 3-day course and is set to grow in the future.
Students learn how to make hand soap with local ingredients for their own use and potentially to start a business. Laundry soap bars are also an everyday necessity since laundry is done by hand.
In 2018, ingredients and basic equipment were purchased to make hand soap with a few young women, using lard from the sausage making project that year. In 2019 this expanded to include about 20 people
Students learn the use of a gas stove and how to do some baking. Recipes and initial ingredients are provided to learn basic skills of making pizza, cookies, cakes, and breads, trying to use as many local ingredients as possible. Lessons in cake decorating are also given.
In 2017, a gas oven was donated to the mission, enabling the introduction of baking. This is a new concept because traditionally Guatemalans only have access to open wood fires.
Being aware of the distance that local people had to travel (either by foot or local taxi) to get to a medical center and the lack of readily available medications needed, we decided to offer consultations and medications in some local villages. Bringing medical personnel from Canada and buying the medications in-country, we work with local nurses who are responsible for the health needs in the villages and followup where needed. This has proven to be an invaluable tool for followup and camaraderie.
Looking for ways to be involved in the larger community and having experience with installing energy efficient wood stoves in other areas of Guatemala, we started connecting with local schools who provide a daily meal to their students but often do not have adequate stoves. They have greatly appreciated the assistance.
There are a bunch of projects we have started or experimented with and are planning to develop further in the future.
The goal of microfinance is to provide funding and teaching for any small business projects that require initial investment. We plan to have a microloan program for building small business like baking, sewing and other future projects.
We have experimented with sausage making, smoked meats, fruit & vegetables drying and canning as well as candle making. These projects are performed in the northern hemisphere but not readily accepted in Central America. We are hoping to further develop these projects in the future.
There is opportunity for more projects and skills development. Projects such as dental teams, the local production of high efficiency stoves, reforestation, agriculture, and other skills development are some ideas we are contemplating.
Join one of our teams, donate funds to help us create new self-sustaining projects and courses, or simply agree to support us in prayer.