Our Guatemalan Partners
COVID-19 Response: Food for Ipala
Guatemala COVID Report
The residents of Ipala, Guatemala—like Cedar Ridge members in Maryland—are dealing with stay-at-home restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus. A national lockdown and curfew has been in effect for several weeks. Schools have closed, and while some lessons are broadcast over cable TV, few teachers and students have access to computers at home for distance learning. Non-essential businesses are closed, churches are not meeting in-person, and residents are expected to stay inside to avoid spending time in the local jail.
Ipala has essentially locked off its main roads from outside traffic, and anyone who recently arrived in town from the US must spend 14 days in quarantine at the newly-built hospital or with a security guard at their home. They are taking it very seriously largely because of the lack of resources to deal with COVID-19. There are no ventilators in Ipala, and very limited supplies of gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, etc. So, they are on the offensive to try to prevent the virus from coming into town. Though miles apart, we are facing a very similar challenge and are praying for each other in the midst of it.
A particular concern that our partners in CIDHER are monitoring is access to food. With people not working, they lack the money needed to buy food. Food prices have increased, and the transportation and distribution of food have been disrupted. To supplement government and other private assistance, Cedar Ridge has funded a week’s supply of basic food to 100 families. We will continue to track this situation, in addition to continuing our commitment to finance the CIDHER health fund and scholarships. As Rosa Alidia, one of our friends in Ipala wrote, “We pray to God for mercy for those affected, and that God grants wisdom to the people of science, so that they soon find a cure…. We hope that Our Lord will continue to keep each one of you safe and in good health. You are in our prayers.”
The Partnership Between Cedar Ridge & Ipala
Cedar Ridge continues to develop a mutually beneficial partnership with the wonderful people of Ipala, Guatemala. Through ongoing practical projects, regular trips, and local events we are fostering friendships with the women, men and children of this Central American town, and with immigrants living in the metro DC area. As we learn from and serve alongside each other, we are experiencing the goodness of the Kingdom of God and seeking to advance social and economic justice amongst vulnerable people.
History of the Partnership
Starting with our vision-inspired desire to reach out beyond global, cultural and political barriers to offer friendship and practical support, the Global Engagement team led our community through a thorough and prayerful process of selecting a developing country upon which we would focus our efforts. Through a series of God-directed circumstances, in 2009 we settled on Ipala, a town of 20,000 in southeastern Guatemala.
How the Partnership Works
Working throughout the year in cooperation with the Comite Ipalteco de Hermanamiento (CIDHER) in the community, Cedar Ridge is currently focused on providing educational opportunities for the children and youth of Ipala and helping address some of the healthcare concerns of the community. Rather that positioning ourselves as “experts” from America, we seek to listen to, learn from, serve and empower our Guatemalan partners.
People of all ages at Cedar Ridge are engaged in this partnership through planning, travel, prayer, correspondence, and providing financial support for scholarships and our other ongoing projects.
How to Get Involved
To get involved, contact Deb Frew. We’d love to have you join with us in Ipala!
Thank you for your support!
Thanks to the generosity of the people of Cedar Ridge, here’s a snapshot of the exciting things that are happening in Guatemala!
- 60 low-income students are currently receiving scholarships for middle and high school. Most of these students would not be able to continue their education past the sixth grade without this support. Our commitment is to continue to sponsor each student through graduation. Each additional year of education is expected to lead to increased earning potential for these youth.
- Twelve schools have received funding for much-needed building projects at their schools, such as classrooms, bathrooms, patio/play areas, and a kitchen.
- A Computer Center created and operated by CIDHER provides computer education for over 250 low-income students.
- Nearly 20 families have had the dirt floors in their homes replaced with a cement floor or an inadequate roof replaced with a new one.
- Over 220 smokeless stoves have been installed and allow for safer, more efficient cooking for families. These stoves drastically reduce the respiratory illness suffered by women and children and decrease the use of wood by 50%. Some schools have also received stoves to allow for more hygienic food preparation for young students.
- Through the use of a dedicated medical fund, dozens of people who cannot afford healthcare (including children and seniors) have been able to receive medications or tests prescribed by doctors.
- Seven new homes have been constructed to replace unsafe living quarters for local families.
Trips to Ipala
Since 2011, over 100 different Cedar Ridge youth and adults have traveled to Ipala to strengthen our friendship and serve alongside the men, women, and children of this municipality. These have been truly life-changing trips for all involved, and an opportunity for us to continue to empower and learn from community leaders in an effort to promote economic justice. We serve alongside middle and high school scholarship recipients, visit schools, work on practical projects, and interact with people of all ages. We also use this time to meet with CIDHER to review finances, procedures, and projects. We’ve also welcomed several Ipala residents who have traveled to Maryland.