In Guatemala, domestic abuse and violence against women are widely accepted and rarely prosecuted. High levels of alcoholism among men, and the inability for women to provide financially for themselves and their families traps them in the cycle of violence. There are few options for women who find themselves in need of a safe haven, let alone an opportunity to rebuild their strength and gain a skill that will sustain their families. They need hope and a future. That's why A Villager's Hand is pleased to have El Refugio as a new partner.
El Refugio is located in a suburb of Guatemala City, and provides a safe haven for these women. The women they serve, and often their children, are survivors of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. In addition to typical domestic violence scenarios, the women are often pushed into prostitution by extended family members. Sometimes the shelter sees pregnant teenagers who are homeless, teens molested by their fathers, and women and children facing death threats from local gangs. Breaking free from a cycle of abuse takes time, so each woman may remain in the program for up to one year. The program provides weekly counseling sessions, legal assistance, medical care, and an opportunity to further their education. The shelter also has ample play area for the children, giving their mothers a chance to rest and heal.
In 2010, the shelter began a small business enterprise to market simple coffee bean jewelry the women had learned to make. Today, the women are making more elaborate designs made from locally mined jade and other stones, beads and seeds. The women are paid for their work, allowing them to save money to prepare for the day they will leave the program and begin independent lives.
Since 2008, the shelter has helped approximately 125 women. El Refugio is changing their futures, one woman at a time. A Villager's Hand is purchasing the jewelry from the women's business, called Weaving Hope Designs, to support the mission of the shelter and assist these women in earning an independent income. Profits from the sale of items in our store will further work of the shelter and similar programs that improve the villagers' communities.