Women in Agroecology Leadership for Conservation (WALC)
WALC is a holistic leadership training program for young women. Although the program has a strong focus on agroecology, WALC students learn about nutrition, cooking, health and hygiene, family planning, career and educational options, self-esteem and confidence building, and a large array of other life-skills. The idea is to equip each participant for a productive, healthy and happy life as well as enabling her to be an agent of positive change in her family, community and village. The thrust of the program is leadership formation. The program seeks to equip young women to be leaders in agroecology and conservation. These young women will transform the agricultural practices of their villages by being empowered and equipped to lead. The program also helps them stay in school and fulfill their dreams of an education.
WALC students training in cloud forest bio-acoustic
WALC has two basic requirements for each participant. 1) Each WALC student must complete a 25-day WALC workshop for each year that she is in the program. 2) Each WALC student must provide proof of school attendance with a letter from her school’s director and a copy of her report card. This ensures that each young woman fulfills her commitment to continue her education. WALC students who fulfill these two requirements are eligible for a scholarship. Scholarships are not issued until proof of school attendance is provided.
We are proud that so many (over 95% each year) of those who go through our workshop choose to continue in school with the support of a CCFC agroecology work-study scholarship. These opportunities change the lives of young woman and have a positive impact on her entire village and the ecological health of the region.
The drop out rate for girls moving from 6th to 7th grade in the villages of CCFC’s work area is higher than 75%. WALC participants from this same demographic have a less than 5% drop out rate. This is the amazing impact that the WALC leadership training workshop and a WALC scholarship can make. Reducing a 75% drop out rate to a drop out rate of less than 5%! That’s a huge difference.
CCFC’s WALC program is funded by private contributions from people like you. Your continued support means that young women from isolated mountain villages that border the cloud forests can participate in the program. These communities are among the least served and are places where poverty and lack of access to education are extreme problems demanding urgent action. In 2015 and 2016, CCFC’s WALC program has the support of Dining For Women. Thanks to this collaboration, CCFC can make the WALC experience available to eighty more young women each year. To celebrate CCFC’s new partnership with DFW, friends of CCFC produced this six minute video.
None of this would be possible without your annual support. Each year, many of you contribute $150 and make the dream of education a reality for another young woman. Our goal for the fall of 2016 is to invite 153 young women into the WALC program.
For CCFC to continue providing this exceptional educational opportunity to more young women in the central highlands of Guatemala, we need your help. Each donation of $150 provides a young woman with a scholarship. To make a donation via PayPal, click on the CCFC donate icon and you will be transferred to the PayPal donation page. Or you can send a check to the address below.** Either way, your donation is 100% tax deductible in the United States; for Canadians with US earned taxable income, it is also a deductible contribution.
For most young women in the rural villages of Alta Verapaz, education beyond the sixth grade is out of reach. Facing limited resources, many parents send only their sons away to school. CCFC’s scholarship program provides young women the dignity and pride of earning their own tuition, and the Leadership Training workshop also builds their self-esteem and confidence.
CCFC wants to see all rural schools serving as many female students as they do male students. The 50/50 initiative identifies villages with extreme gender inequality and corrects the problem by helping female students attend secondary school. Be a part of the 50/50 initiative. When you earmark your $150 contribution to the WALC program, put 50/50 in the memo line of the check and CCFC will use your contribution to support one of the young women from a village of extreme gender inequality.
Of all that CCFC does to alleviate poverty and protect cloud forests, education is paramount. The agroecology service-learning workshop gives students hands-on experiences that translate into usable life skills in their home communities. Students learn and practice human nutrition, soil conservation, organic fertilizer production, integrated pest management, basic garden ecology, vegetable production, propagation of traditional crops, fruit tree management, and production planning.
CCFC employs teachers who share the same cultural and language background as the students, including some scholarship program participants. CCFC’s current Projects Coordinator, Elvira Ac Macz, is one of many remarkable WALC alumnae.
History of CCFC’s Agroecology Work-Study Scholarship Program
In November of 2007, CCFC enrolled seven young women, all of whom had completed 7th grade, in the first agroecology service-learning camp in San Juan Chamelco. All seven later graduated from basico, the equivalent of middle-school, and all went on in school.
In the fall of 2008, eight scholarships were awarded to four students. These eight young people, together with their instructors, Ricardo Ical Chub and Enrique Coc Caal, prepared garden beds, learned about the use of organic fertilizers, and created a banana circle gray water system for the agroecology center. They planted 20 banana plants, 58 malanga plants, 20 cassava plants, and 25 fruit trees. At the end of their service-learning camp, the group visited a museum of Maya artifacts in Cobán. One student described her experience as life-changing.
In the fall of 2009, twenty-nine students earned CCFC scholarships. Split into 3 groups of approximately 10 students each, these scholarship recipients worked in tree nursery management, organic gardening, soil conservation, and integrated pest management. They also experienced the cloud forest and toured a museum of Maya archeology. Students worked at three agroecology campuses and visited communities involved in reforestation projects.
How did this program develop? See scholarships: a prehistory.
In 2010, eight WALC alumna were selected to be a part of Q’eqchi’ – Canada Exchange, a cultural exchange program organized by CCFC. This trip allowed young Q’eqchi’ Maya women to visit first nations across western Canada.
The scholarship program is designed to dovetail with several schools that offer room and board to students who come from distant communities. With this scholarship they can earn their tuition for the year plus some extra for materials. Some students choose to go to more expensive schools with the help that the Agroecology Work-study scholarships provides. Some students opt for less expensive schools. The scholarship conditions are the same for all students, regardless of school choice.