Jalapa Girl Jewelsmiths
The story of this group begins with its loving founder, Clare Johnston Kunkel, a woman who was touched by the story of Casa Hogar, a home for women, in Guatemala. The girls and young women who live here come from small towns, mining cities and agricultural communities. This place is now home to about 110 girls between the ages of two and 21 who come from homes with problems, some who are abused, orphans or extremely poor. <br><br> Clare decided to travel from the U.S. in February 2007 to offer her help. Her motivation was to volunteer and teach the older girls how to sew. It was quickly made obvious how teaching the girls basic sewing techniques began making changes to their lives. <br><br> Knowing how to sew improved the girls' chances of being employed, but their growth was limited. Since they only had the ability to sew, it wasn't enough to start their own business and be successful. <br><br> Clare began to develop an entrepreneurship training program. The platform of this study plan is a curriculum with measurable objectives within a specific time frame. Since 2008, Clare has dedicated a lot of time coming back to the Casa Hogar to work with the girls. This program with Casa Hogar has been built bit by bit over quite a few years. Now, 20 girls work in the project. They all live in the Casa Hogar and are open to trying new opportunities to form their dreams at a young age. <br><br> The goal with the girls is to help them during their formative years so they can develop their abilities to the maximum and learn many new things. <br><br> Currently, the girls are working on sewing, creating bags and other accessories with traditional textiles. In addition, they have learned to craft jewelry using silver, gemstones and leather. <br><br> The girls go through a year of training in other areas before working with silver. It's a process that takes some time to learn, but many of them have become very interested and are now capable of creating intricate designs. <br><br> Everyone involved with the project is proud to say everything is done by hand. We don't use molds or stamps, with the exception of a few letters and numbers. In each design, the girl who creates it adds her fingerprint. This fingerprint is for the buyer to know they are buying an item that is helping to improve the life of a Guatemalan girl. <br><br> All of the girls work hard and enthusiastically to earn a living.<br><br> This project's mission has been achieved little by little by training young Guatemalan women and allowing them to earn a better income and make financial decisions. Earning one's own money allows a person to have economic autonomy and breaks down social barriers. The first step is to have a meaningful employment based on education and job training. <br><br> The goal is for the girls to become self-sufficient and sure of themselves. Casa Hogar assures that the girls receive loving attention, a secure home and basic education. The project offers training to live in the real world so they can gain a dignified job and a steady of income for their homes. <br><br> La Casa Hogar is a Catholic institution. It is directed by nuns who give the girls the necessary tools to be successful and happy women.