You can see Julie and hear more about the work of (SSG) at the 2013 Global Activism Expo on Saturday April 6th at the UIC Forum.
Julie has seen positive change since her last visit to Guatemala. More in her blog:
“I have been visiting the AFOPADI (Asociación de formación para el desarrollo integral) projects in the region of Huehuetenango, Guatemala for nearly a decade. Initially, I went as a donor, then as a project director for Earthways and now additionally, I make annual site-visits as President of the non-profit I formed two years ago, Sustainable Sharing with Guatemala (SSG). With the perspective I am now developing, I can start to see why AFOPADI is such an exceptional NGO. I imagine that most NGOs face similar challenges in the problems confronting life at the extreme edges of poverty, Climate Change, war, politics and religion. Guatemala is no different; I have been visiting since the 1980s when I worked in the US with Guatemalan refugees during the war. With the opportunity to have seen countless NGOs, I can now see that AFOPADI is one of those few groups that not only has a sustainable footprint, but evidences change. Real change is beginning to show itself in a host of ways that come from AFOPADI's local base and leadership with the Indigenous Mayan Mam communities in the Cuchumantanes mountains of Guatemala. One exciting change I saw this trip was that in the village closest to the regional town, AFOPADI no longer gives scholarships to support attending high school. There is no longer a need since the parents in that community have, over nearly 20 years, come to internalize the fact that education is important and will now prioritize and sacrifice to send their kids (including girls!) to high school. Not only has AFOPADI listened to the communities they serve, but as well, projects have been in constant adaption to the realities on-the-ground. AFOPADI was founded by three Guatemalan brothers of part-indigenous origin. While having received more formal education than most Guatemalans, being local, these brothers better understand the infrastructure and methods that work in a developing country. Working with a cultural understanding enables AFOPADI to have successes both external and most importantly: internal. For internalized change is the key to our sustainable future.”