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Friends of Guatemala to host a fundraising concert next month

Lacombe musical duo Poplar & 51st are among the performers set to hit the stage for the upcoming Friends of Guatemala fundraising concert on April 6 at St. Andrew’s United Church. (Photo submitted)

A fundraising concert for the Friends of Guatemala is coming up on April 6th at St. Andrew’s United Church.

Tickets are $20 for the concert, which will feature the Wildrose Yodel Club, Poplar & 51st, and Ray Baird with Ol’ Frisky.

Showtime is 7 p.m.

“This project helps women in a particular community, in this case, Aldea Nueva Concepcion in the Quetzaltenango district of Guatemala,” said committee member Donna Pierson.

“It provides funds for seeds, chickens, and supplies to get started, and also training and education from an agronomist. The goal is to develop sustainable agriculture practices to help these people become more self-sufficient.”

For ticket information, call Doug at 403-318-5733, Donna at 403-350-7109, or the church office at 403-782-3148.

Meanwhile, the Friends of Guatemala is a fundraising committee under the auspices of St. Andrew’s United Church. Their primary goals are education about Guatemala and its people, in particular the Indigenous Mayan people who have been marginalized for many years, and fundraising to help support projects based in Guatemala that work to improve the lives of Maya people.

The organization they primarily support is the Fraternidad de Presbiteriales Maya (Fraternity of Mayan Presbyterials. This organization works with Mayan women in four key areas — pastoral care, health and nutrition, productive partnering, and on environmental issues.

As Pierson pointed out, these women often face several obstacles as well, including simply being women, being poor, being Indigenous with a lack of opportunities, and dealing with a high level of illiteracy.

“The project we are most interested in supporting at this time is a food security project,” added Pierson.

“Malnutrition is a major problem for many of the children. Harvests have been insufficient due to poor soil quality from over-exploited hillsides and farms that are too small.”

Friends of Guatemala was eventually launched after the visit of a Guatemalan woman to Lacombe back in the mid-1990s.

Later, a local group headed there, and over the years, several more trips have been made to assist with various projects, said Pierson.

A primary connection was ultimately made with the Fraternidad de Presbiteriales Mayas.

It’s certainly a country that has faced and continues to deal with immense challenges.

Bordered to the north and west by Mexico, to the northeast by Belize, to the east by Honduras, and to the southeast by El Salvador, it is the most populated state in Central America.

“Guatemala is the largest economy in Central America, with a GDP (PPP) per capita of U.S. $5,200,” according to Wikipedia.

“However, Guatemala faces many social problems and is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. The income distribution is highly unequal with more than half of the population below the national poverty line and just over 400,000 (3.2 per cent) unemployed.”

As to the upcoming concert, variety is indeed the defining word.

Ray Baird started playing guitar when he was quite young, and his Dad would play on the fiddle. Over the years he has played with several bands and individuals.

Baird has also penned many songs in his unique country style and has recorded three CDs.

He also enjoys getting together for jam sessions and is helpful and encouraging to beginner players.

Gordon Ross began playing piano at age three, and was composing his music at age five.

According to his bio, when he was 12 years old they lost their piano in a flood.

“After that, Gordon switched to playing the violin. He has played with numerous bands around Red Deer for 40 years and goes by the stage name of Ol’ Frisky.

Baird and Ross met at the Prostate Support Group in Red Deer and have played together for the last three years.

Relative newcomers to the local music scene, Poplar and 51st marks the melding of the tremendous talents of Brooklyn Figursky and Dave Holmes.

Meanwhile, For Pierson, belonging to the Friends of Guatemala brings a strong sense of fulfillment. She’s also visited the country twice.

“For what they go through, we’ve always been really welcomed, and they’ve always been very gracious with us,” she said. “They are very wonderful people.

“It’s also just so eye-opening to see how different people live.”

Meanwhile, anyone is welcome to check out a meeting of the Friends of Guatemala.

The group meets on the second Thursday of the month at St. Andrew’s United Church. Meetings begin at 7 p.m.

For more information about the organizaiton, call Donna Pierson at 403-350-7109.

Mark Weber

About the Author: Mark Weber

I've been a part of the Black Press Media family for about a dozen years now, with stints at the Red Deer Express, the Stettler Independent, and now the Lacombe Express.
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