Today is International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to celebrating women and their achievements worldwide.
Sharing the Dream is fortunate to work with many amazing women across our programs. 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 led by women. 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 oftentimes treat them with more respect and equality. Woman also invest in the health, education, and general well-being of their children and family, which leads to positive changes in future generations.
Today we want to share the story of one of the amazing women that we are so fortunate to work with, Concepcion Quieju.Concepcion is one of Sharing the Dream’s elders. Concepcion is a war widow, and her husband and two of her sons were kidnapped and disappeared by the military during the Guatemalan Civil War when they were on their way out to work in the fields. Even though the family searched extensively, their bodies were never found.
As a widow, Concepcion had to work very hard in order to provide for the family. She wove the traditional clothing of Santiago Atitlan, and she broke down gender barriers by going out to collect firewood in the mountains- a task traditionally considered men’s work.
Concepcion’s family was again affected during the mudslide from Hurricane Stan in 2005 when her daughter was buried under the mud. The family also lost their house and had to live in a temporary housing settlement for many years while the Guatemalan government built new houses for the survivors.
Despite the hardships and suffering that Concepcion has endured, she continues to fight for herself, her family, and others. Concepcion is active at the Elder Center, where she participates on the advisory council, and she regularly volunteers to help out making lunch for her peers. She has been active in helping out with the land title for the new Elder Center, and her dream is to see the new Elder Center completed.
Please consider making a donation to the Elder Center Construction Fund to help make Concepcion’s dream come true.
Sharing the Dream in Guatemala
Diane Nesselhuf is Sharing the Dream in Guatemala's director and founder.