“We, the women of UPAVIM, made it our mission years ago to dedicate ourselves to making a difference anywhere it is needed and tackling many of these issues in our community.”

-upavima (translated from spanish)

Women Dedicated to Making a Difference

Our community, La Esperanza (“Hope” in English), is a squatter settlement south of Guatemala City. La Esperanza and its surroundings were established by a migration of approximately 40,000 displaced people in 1984. These settlers had been driven from rural areas during Guatemala’s brutal 42-year Civil War.

In the beginning, La Esperanza was made up of tin, plastic, wood, and cardboard shacks. There was no sewage system, electricity, or potable water. Since then, La Esperanza has transformed into a viable community with cement block houses, underground sewage pipes, and other basic services. These improvements were carried out by the active participation of the community and with support from international organizations such as UNICEF.

Despite the progress, La Esperanza continues to suffer from many of the social problems that characterize marginalized populations like gang and domestic violence, illiteracy, unemployment, alcoholism, and malnutrition. Depression, fear, and apathy pervade our community. Many families have disintegrated. Many mothers are the sole providers for their families. Often children are left without a lasting positive male presence. Lack of financial resources, proper supervision, and basic community services stifle the growth and development of our children.

We are dedicated to tackling these issues in our community with employment opportunities for women and our health and educational services.