WELCOMING WEAVERS - Geke Brunnie (centre)

WELCOMING WEAVERS - Geke Brunnie (centre)

St. Andrew’s to raise funds for Guatemala project

The Compadres, a Latin American music group, is coming to Lacombe on May 10th to help with a very special project.

The Compadres, a Latin American music group, is coming to Lacombe on May 10th to help with a very special project.

Geke Brunnie and Sherill Moore, both members of St. Andrew’s United Church, said that the church is hosting the concert to raise funds for a project they support in Guatemala. Moore said the organizers thought Latin American music would go well with the benefit for the project.

“We thought it would be a good fit,” said Moore. Brunnie added that the show is for a very important cause that needs the support of the community to succeed.

“We are hoping everyone comes out and enjoys the concert.”

This project that St. Andrew’s supports is called Fraternidad. Fraternidad is a project that works mostly with Mayan women to help them improve their quality of life.

Many of the women that Fraternidad works with are not educated at all. Brunnie said that most of them are illiterate.

There are many strategies Fraternidad uses. With the support and money they get from St. Andrew’s United Church and other organizations, they give training to young women in a variety of subjects. They also have micro-loan projects and food security projects as well.

Fraternidad is supported by the whole of the United Church as an organization, but St. Andrew’s United Church piggy-backs off that larger project and also supports another smaller project at the Maya Clinic, which is in the same area of Guatemala, that trains women to be midwives.

Every few years, a group from St. Andrew’s travels to Guatemala to present the moneys to the projects and check up on how things are going. Brunnie and Moore both participated in a 10-day trip to Guatemala to learn more about the Fraternidad project two years ago.

Brunnie said she got involved with the trip because she enjoyed traveling and living abroad and had done so many times in the past and even worked as a volunteer for two years in Israel. Moore said she and her husband had recently joined the St. Andrew’s parish because it was so involved in outreach projects and the timing worked out well for them to partake in the trip.

Moore said it was interesting to see what some of the women involved in the project were doing with their micro-loans. She said that one woman used her loan to buy a piglet, raised it, sold it and then used the money to buy two more piglets. She then raised and sold the two piglets and used that money to buy a calf. Slowly, she began to build herself a farm.

Another woman bought chickens with her micro-loan. With the eggs from her chickens, she was able to start a bakery and also sold eggs for some extra money on the side, Moore said.

Brunnie commented on how the women benefitting from Fraternidad were getting more than a few basic skills. They were getting basic skills that enabled them to do things that were previously impossible, things we in Canada take for granted. “When you cannot read or write, you are so behind in everything,” said Brunnie. “They have nothing.”

Brunnie went on to say that once the women learned a few basic skills, like reading and writing, they gained some confidence and self-esteem as well. Moore added that the skills from Fraternidad were also helping women educate themselves about the world around them. She mentioned a program that had taken place around the time they visited Guatemala which taught the women how to vote and why they should vote for which candidates.

Both Brunnie and Moore said that the trip was “amazing” and it was interesting to get to see the project at work up close. Both of them said the best part was seeing how passionate the people were to learn more and how dedicated they were to improving themselves.

“They have done so much with what they have,” said Moore. “They have stretched their pennies so far, it is just amazing.”

Brunnie added that it was eye opening to see how much could be accomplished with just a little bit of help. “It really makes you aware of what you can do. It was really rewarding.”

Tickets for The Compadres fundraiser concert are $40 in advance and $45 at the door and are available at St. Andrew’s and Sunny 94 or call Tom at 403-341-9348. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. at St. Andrew’s United Church.