20 Apr
  • By Theresa DeSouza
  • Cause in

UPAVIM Response to COVID-19

Dear Friends of UPAVIM,

We had planned to send out an upbeat newsletter end of March updating everyone on the recent accomplishments and changes at UPAVIM. Then our world changed in a matter of weeks and everything was turned upside down.  As many of you know Guatemala closed its borders, no flights in and out, shut down schools, businesses, public transportation and more.  They have a curfew now from 4pm – 4am. The president has really stepped up to the plate to keep the spread in Guatemala to a minimum. Without the proper healthcare infrastructure this could be a crisis of huge magnitude there and he knows it.

Our UPAVIM children are not in school and the women are either not working or finishing up some craft orders from home. That work will soon dry up with retail non-essential stores either closed are doing little to no business in the USA. Our distributor has had no wholesale orders in weeks. The teachers and artisans of UPAVIM have been panicking about how they are going to survive.

The board of UCDF–the UPAVIM Community Development Foundation—based in the USA, has been working on a solution to help the women through this time. The foundation was set up about 20 years ago to help raise money for the special needs of UPAVIM and to help advise when needed. Our board consists of 12 dedicated people, many returned volunteers, in 3 different countries with knowledge and skills related to UPAVIM’s work.  We try our best to support UPAVIM, but coping with a pandemic is new territory for us.

The board has April taken care of to help the women and their families. We will reconvene the end of April, assess the situation in Guatemala at that time, and then will come up with longer term solutions planning for a year if needed. Our goal is to keep the UPAVIM women and their families, safe, healthy, and fed if possible. A very small core of full time staff will continue to work from home and help the women and the business where and how they can. We hope to get food supplies in bulk stored at UPAVIM in the coming months to be distributed to the women to help them through this extremely difficult and scary time.

The bakery is still open providing for the community for now and is the only part of UPAVIM that is still running. The staff are using sanitation protocols but of course we still worry for their safety. The board will advise UPAVIM as much as we can but ultimately the decision is theirs as a self-governing organization to do what they decide in these matters.

Living in a community such as La Esperanza where the homes are small, families big, and children run around and play closely with each other, it will be so difficult to stop the spread of COVID-19. Our hope is that when this is all over we do not have any loss of women or their families and that UPAVIM can pick up where it left off just a few weeks ago.

You can help UPAVIM and UCDF too! Here are some great options:

1)  Buy mail order from the comfort of your couch! Our website has loads of fabulous gifts you will need to buy for family and friends or treat yourself to something special while social distancing at home. By purchasing UPAVIM products you help our distributor to keep buying from the women who can keep working from home if they have orders. There is a new beautiful website launched in January that you can visit at www.upavimcrafts.org

2) Tell your friends to shop with us!

3) Like us on Facebook and repost our posts so all your followers can see you support UPAVIM!

4) Use Amazon smile and sign up for the UPAVIM Community Development Foundation to receive the percentage they give with each order.

5) And lastly, if you prefer to give money that too would be a HUGE help directly impacting us to get through these months keeping the women afloat.  https://upavim.org/support/

You are always there for us and we are forever grateful for your support.  We hope that you and yours stay safe and healthy through this global pandemic. This virus is taking its toll on everyone and we all need to stick together and help one another however we can. One act of kindness goes a long way.

Thank you in advance! All our best to you from the women of UPAVIM and the UCDF Board.

Mary Joan Ferrara-Marsland

UCDF President