Here’s the story of how the Wakami Dream was born.
For me, there are two moments that have determined the journey of my life. The first one came when I was 18 years old as a freshman in college. During my summer vacation, I served as a volunteer at a refugee camp, through a local parish. My country had been at war for 20 years, and people were forced out of their villages constantly. I only spent a week there, but it was one I have never been able to forget.
On one of my days as a volunteer, it was our job to take three sick children with their mothers to the nearest hospital. On our way there, one of the children died. I had to wrap the baby in a blanket and hand him back to his mother. She stepped out of the car and we left her at the side of the road to walk back to the village, with a dead child in her arms. Meanwhile, we hurried to the hospital with the 2 other sick children. That child had died because there was no IV solution for him; a $5 IV solution! To see the pain and feel the heartbreak of that mother is something I will never forget.
The second moment came to me when I was 23 and was writing my biology thesis. At some point, I just took my pencil and wrote a vision I had. One where both the people and the land were thriving; one where people knew how to live in Peace, all the time.
After graduating from college and getting a master’s degree in Agriculture from Cornell University, I came back to Guatemala. I wanted my starting point to be those rural women I had met. Not sure how, but I wanted to create a world like the one in my vision: one where both the Earth and People would be happy.
I traveled to a community that was suffering from famine. The first declared in Guatemalan history. The children there were emaciated and the mothers were suffering. Not only from hunger, but also from their inability to feed their children. I asked one of the women what I could do to help. She said, “If you can sell what we produce, the rest we can do. First, we need to take care of our families, then we can take care of the Earth”.
That is how Wakami was formally born 12 years ago. To provide income to women with big dreams but few opportunities.
To see them now is priceless. We have 18 communities of women earning income, taking care of their children and learning how to build healthy homes and lifestyles. This is what the Wakami team and friends live for.
The first thing that women with income will do is to invest it all in their children and their families. That is why we see 60% of our Wakami children stepping out of malnutrition. In a country where 46% of its children under 5 years of age have chronic malnutrition. We see 9 out of 10 boys and girls going to school. In a country where only 5 out of 10 children between the ages of 6 and 18 go to school. We see homes with water filters, and smokeless stoves and solar energy.
All this change is happening through mothers who want to give their children a beautiful life.
As for me, a mother of three, I am happy. As I told my children every time I needed to travel away: being a mother also means we need to create a better world for our children. And this is my dream.