Hope at Home

HOPE AT HOME

EPIC is responding to the dire conditions of our neighbors in Central America and Mexico by:

Assuring

Food Security

Protecting the

Environment

Building

Hope & Solidarity

Among Youth

Working for

Human Rights

Strategy #1  Assuring Food Security

THE NEED:
Guatemala has the fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world and the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean. Chronic undernutrition for children under 5 years old is 49.8% for the country as a whole. The majority of EPIC’s work is with indigenous families where the percentage of chronic undernutrition raises to 70%. In addition, successive droughts in Guatemala’s dry corridor are causing new acute food shortages. Malnutrition in Guatemala (USAID 2018)

THE RESPONSE:
The Baja Verapaz Sustainable Agriculture and Health Education Program is increasing food production in villages of Guatemala’s dry corridor. Here is how the program enables families to have food security and hope in their home villages:

  • Plant vegetable gardens – individual home gardens plus community gardens tended by groups of women
  • Increase available protein by increasing the number of chickens in family flocks
  • Plant hundreds of fruit trees
  • Increase yields of corn and beans by promoting sustainable agricultural practices that maximize use of rainfall and conserve soil  on hillside farms. Teach farmers to improve soil fertility organically.
  • Plan for weather extremes – planting crops that like lots of water and crops that will survive drought

Strategy #2 Protecting the Environment

THE NEED:
Honduras and Guatemala have suffered incredible deforestation. Globally reforestation fights climate change. On a local level reforestation protects watersheds and helps springs and creeks to continue to flow. Trees enable more of the rain that falls to be absorbed by the soil and the tree roots stabilize hillside soils.

THE RESPONSE:
During 2018-19, participants in the La Semilla Program in Honduras and the Baja Verapaz program in Guatemala planted a total of 216,745 trees.

  • Forest trees – 28,906
  • Coffee trees – 181,037 (plus an unreported large number of trees planted to shade the coffee)
  • Fruit trees – 6,938

Trees planted for reforestation provide families with cooking fuel and lumber, cool the environment, and provide organic material for the soil. In many hillside situations, the programs have been able to obtain the environmental advantages of reforestation by planting coffee trees which also produce income for the farmers. The coffee trees are planted in contour lines across hillsides, with fast growing shade trees planted alongside. The roots of both hold the soil preventing erosion. The coffee of program participants is grown organically, and the shade trees bring in birds.

Strategy #3   Working for Human Rights

THE NEED:
Daily in Mexico and Central America, people’s human rights are violated, from domestic violence in the home to foreign mining companies illegally taking the land of indigenous people. Environmental leaders and persons working for human rights are regularly being killed. In a myriad of actions, EPIC program partners work in small ways appropriate to their own situations to promote more respect for human rights.

THE RESPONSE:
The Fundación Don Sergio Méndez Arceo in Mexico gives environmental leaders and persons working for human rights more visibility nationally through their annual human rights awards and more protection through their advocacy. Since 1995 they have valiantly stood up when rural peasants, migrants, indigenous people, or the environment was being trampled by powerful and greedy forces.

Strategy #4   Building Hope and Solidarity for Youth

THE NEED:
If youth feel hopeless and discouraged, they are tempted to try to attempt the very dangerous trip “North”. If they have no place where they feel they belong, they are prone to join gangs. EPIC and its partners feel that providing opportunities for youth is one of the most urgent needs in Central America.

THE RESPONSE:
Music Not Gangs is a popular music program for youth of Mujeres en Acción. It enables youth both to learn to play an instrument and to have a social group. Joining this music program increases self-esteem, and participating Guatemalan youth can enjoy music without going to music venues where drugs are traded and gang members recruit.