A letter and update from our Founder and US Director, Diane Nesselhuf
I would like to thank everyone who has donated and bought items from our online store. It is really helping and will make a difference.
I am not hearing good news from Guatemala. As the pandemic goes on, more people there are diagnosed, and there is a shutdown of all transportation and almost all businesses. The people have to be off the streets at 4PM. When you already live day to day, shutting down the country means people will not be able to survive.
Lauren, our director in Guatemala, has temporarily left the country. She was notified by the State Department that she should return to the US. She did not make one of the six charter flights from the State Department but was able to book a flight on Eastern Airlines, which was the only flight other than the State Department’s flights that left Guatemala. The State Department prioritized families and older people first. Leaving Guatemala was a difficult decision, and she spent 4 hours outside the airport waiting to get in and then 3 hours waiting for the flight to get cleared so they could depart. Lauren will spend 15 days in self-quarantine, and then we are hoping she can come to Vermillion and help out here.
The staff is working hard in Guatemala to keep everything going, and Lauren communicates with them many times daily via phone and Skype. We must keep paying our staff and financing our programs.
I know it is difficult here, too. We are all feeling the strains of being housebound, and many people here have lost their income. Our prayers go out to people all over the world.
I am going to make a pledge, and I am hoping those of you who are able to will also make the pledge. I am going to pledge my government stimulus payment check to Sharing the Dream to help the people in Guatemala. I realize not everyone can do this, and I don’t want people to feel guilty when they need their stimulus check for their family or others in need. Please join me if you can.
Sharing the Dream in Guatemala
Please donate via the website at or send a check to:
Sharing the Dream
10 W. Main
Can you help?
We have temporarily closed our two non-profit fair trade stores in South Dakota. Our off site spring sales have been canceled.
During this difficult time, we are maintaining our programs and paying our staff in Guatemala. Without this help, our elders would go hungry and our staff would not have an income. There are no safety nets in Guatemala. Sharing the Dream in Guatemala is their safety net. This is a huge responsibility. We need to have income of about $15,000.00 per month to keep things going in Guatemalan and here in the states.
How can you help?
March 8th is International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to celebrating women and their achievements. Sharing the Dream is fortunate to work with many amazing women. Many of the artisans are women, the elders at the Elder Center are primarily women, the majority of the scholarship students are girls and young women, and Sharing the Dream is a women led organization. We have found that by working with women, it improves their self-esteem. This improved self-esteem means that their entire family, including their husband, looks at them differently, and often times treat them with more respect and equality. Women also invest in the health, education, and general well-being of their children and family, which leads to positive changes in future generations.
Isabel, our Artisan Development coordinator, is one of these amazing women. Years ago, a little girl from a mountain village was introduced to Diane. She wanted to go to school, but her father had died and there wasn’t any money. Even though she was only in middle school, she would go to school in the morning and weave by candlelight at night to earn a little money. She was malnourished and the family ate primarily tortillas and salt. They spoke very little Spanish. The man who introduced them asked for a scholarship for Isa so that she didn’t have to weave at night. A generous woman from Sharing the Dream sponsored Isabel through middle and high school.
Isabel lived at the Sharing the Dream office during high school and cleaned in exchange for her rent. It was then that we discovered her talent for a variety of handicraft techniques. Isabel started as an assistant to our Artisan Development coordinator, and when that person left, Isa was hired in that position.
Years later, Isa is still with Sharing the Dream and is doing a great job. Her shyness disappeared as she became more confident. She is now married and has two little boys, who are healthy, well-nourished, and well loved. Her oldest son goes to school, which he loves. Isa is proud of her family.
What a difference having an opportunity made for this shy village girl. Isa is poised, accomplished, a terrific mother, and a wonderful role model. Isa was given a chance. That is what most people here need. By purchasing a product from Sharing the Dream, you are providing opportunities to people in Guatemala so that they can provide for their families and change their lives.
Sharing the Dream in Guatemala
Diane Nesselhuf is Sharing the Dream in Guatemala's director and founder.