There was a big crowd representing Washington NGOs working on a range of health, environmental, and development issues across Central America. We heard from organizations with programs in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, and Costa Rica. Among the different areas of focus there was one shared value: a passion for working for social justice in Central America through giving people the tools and support to solve their unique problems.
The event was moderated by the Executive Director of Global Washington, Bookda Gheisar. She shared that part of Global Washington’s mission is to bring together members of the local development community to share information, network, and determine ways to collaborate. She welcomed the Global Washington members attending and encouraged other attendees to consider membership. We were offered some background by Enrique Gonzalez on our host location, the Centro de la Raza, a Latino community center that asks “What kind of world do we want to leave our children?” Enrique suggested that “A lot of organizations run in parallel and it’s not until we have meetings like this we realize it.” Everyone was invited to attend monthly “Café y Pan Dulce” gatherings the first Thursday of each month. More information about the Centro de la Raza and these events can be found
Next, Mauricio Vivero, Executive Director of the(SIF) shared information about his organization, including its history, mission, and areas of focus. We learned that the objectives of the foundation include promoting the Seattle & Washington non-profit environment as a model for the rest of the US through support of Global Washington, as well as a Small Grants Program that provides grants to internationally-focused NGOs based in Washington. Mauricio expressed that SIF’s support of Global Washington comes from a desire to build connections in the local development community, and to learn from each other’s work. He also detailed how SIF’s specific focus on Central America comes from a 15 year history of giving by Bill and Paula Clapp who have both been deeply involved in poverty alleviation in the region. You can find out more about SIF’s support of programs as well as information about grant opportunities . The deadline for the next round of grants is June 15th.
Following Mauricio’s talk, we spent some time hearing from different organizations about their work and areas of potential interest in collaborating. Possible collaborations included:
- Sharing shipping containers between groups working in Guatemala.
- Partnerships between organizations working in similar regions to address a greater range of needs.
- Establishing connections between organizations to help deal with on-the-ground logistics.
- Providing students to partner organizations for eye-opener trips.
- And finally, an interest in providing low-cost, bamboo-based housing to any group that might be able to utilize this type of resource.
Some of the organizations in attendance included:
Adopt a Village in Guatemala–
Empowering Guatemalan children through educational programs that teach leadership and self-help skills so they may improve their future lives.
Committed to breaking the cycle of poverty for rural families in Central America and Mexico by enabling landless communities to achieve land ownership and economic stability.
Billing Middle School–
A school focused on social justice issues with a mission to create global citizens.
The Brave Foundation–
Improving the fire and life saving efforts in Guatemala.
Campaign for the Santa Cruz Center For Vocational Education
Supporting education, better health care, a cleaner environment and sustainable economic development for the remote village of Santa Cruz la Laguna, Guatemala and other outlying areas.
Fostering ecological objectives through bamboo conservation and reforestation, contributing to economic development, and facilitating social integration of marginalized segments of society.
Friends of The Orphans–
Supporting 9 children’s homes in 5 countries across Latin America.
Empowering student volunteers and professionals nation-wide to provide communities in developing countries with sustainable solutions that improve quality of life while respecting local culture and improving the environment.
Engages the business community and others in advancing sustainable solutions to poverty in Latin America.
Youth empowerment and education with a focus on the environment and social justice.
Healing the Children– Oregon and Western Washington Chapter-
A national, non-profit organization whose mission is to restore health to impoverished children of the world through donated medical services.
Working to empower children and adults with tools for knowledge sharing and literacy learning, as an effective means towards advancing education, health, economic development, democracy, and human rights.
Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA)–
Linking people in the U.S. with the Guatemalan people and their struggles for justice, human rights, environmental protection, and dignity.
Ninos Estudiando El Salvador (NESES)–
Enriching the lives of orphaned and underprivileged Salvadoran children and expanding their knowledge of educational and occupational opportunities in their home country.
Unitarian Universalist Central American Network–
Working with witnesses of the Guatemalan genocide and endeavoring to build public awareness about Guatemala and advocate for humane policies in Guatemala and the rest of the Central America.
Women’s Enterprises International–
Creating opportunities that equip women in developing countries to overcome poverty and transform their lives and communities.
Wed June 17th: Sijambo Sub-Saharan Africa
Wed July 15th: Convening Central and South Asia
Wed August 19th: East Asia and South East Asia
Wed September 16th: Salaam Maleukum Middle East and North Africa