Women's Empowerment in the Chaco Region

By Dawn Barnes, Week of Compassion's Transitional Program Associate, who recently traveled with Foods Resource Bank to visit our South American partners in the Chaco Region working with Church World Service. 

The Santa Teresita community is located just off the main road near the small town of Mariscal Estigarriba in Paraguay. It is a small community of the Chaco Region where dust flies up from the tracks of our tires and small houses, brush trees and cacti dot the landscape. On our visit, we heard about the struggles of the community from a group of women gathered. This group of women have faced hard working conditions. There is insufficient access to water and it is a hot and dry environment, so it is difficult to grow their gardens. There is limited income and access to employment here; therefore, the men leave the community and seek employment away from home where there are more opportunities. This leaves the women alone to take care of their families and surrounding community with very little resources.   

It was from these struggles that a small group of women in Santa Teresita banned together and created a thriving bakery and small craft project called Kuna Guarani Katupyry, which translated from Guarani means "empowered women." The women bake various breads, sweet and savory, pizzas and cakes. The breads are baked both in an outdoor oven as well as a small indoor electric oven housed in the community center where the women's project is located. The market for the bread is great - they sell out every day! The group consists of about 10 women of varying ages. Some of the women are also making beautifully crafted handicrafts while others tend to their community garden, growing watermelons, onion, herbs, fruit and more. The women of Santa Teresita are empowered to provide for themselves, their families and for their community now.

The Kuna Guarani Katupyry project was funded with the help of Week of Compassion through CWS's South American Chaco Ecumenical Small Projects Fund (SPF). The objective of the Small Project Fund is to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations, groups and communities in the South American Chaco to transform the conditions of poverty and inequality and promote human rights.

We also heard the women's stories of hope. It was over two years ago that these bold women came together and formed a women's group to take action. It was with excitement that they talked about expanding their bakery business, obtaining more training in baking and gardening, and we heard their dream to have their own building someday. The ladies talked about how good it is to gather together as women and how they feel empowered. Empowered that they have formed this group on their own, forged a plan together to build this project and that it is not only successful but thriving to grow and expand. The leader of this group, Teresa, spoke about how they want their children to see the model of their organization and how they work together to make a difference so that their children and their grandchildren's lives will be changed.

This is your Compassion in Action - women's empowerment, food security and so much more. Thank you for helping to empower the women of Santa Teresita!

Week of Compassion at General Assembly

Come and SOAR! at General Assembly, July 18-22, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. We will be hosting a continental breakfast on Tuesday, July 21 at 7:00 a.m. at the Convention Center in Ballroom 3. In partnership with the Common Board of Global Ministries' launching of the Middle East Initiative at General Assembly, our guest speaker will be Constantine "Dean" Triantafilou, the Executive Director and CEO of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). He will be uplifting the relief efforts in the Middle East, specifically with the Syrian crisis and the ways in which you have put your Compassion into Action.  You can sign up online or the breakfast.

Job Opening - Associate Director

Interested in joining the Week of Compassion team? We have a job opening for Associate Director. The job description is posted online and applications are due by July 31, 2015.

This Week's Responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Texas, Flood Damage (12)
Colorado, Flood Damage
Haiti, Emergency Assistance
Jordan, Refugee Assistance
Oklahoma, Flood Damage (2)
Virginia, Refugee Assistance

Development, Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
Indiana, Home Build Sponsorship