Social justice for Guatemala brewing in Wolseley

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/05/2016 (2289 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Sprague Street spouses Ken Friesen and Sandra Stuart have recently returned from the highlands of Guatemala, from an area home to some 80 Mayan villages.

This is no Mayan Riviera. Here, the indigenous peoples fight government-supported, foreign mining companies that are polluting the water, struggle for equitable land distribution and confront the effects of climate change — a severe drought and blight afflicting Central American coffee harvests.

Ken and Sandra were Manitoba’s participants in a 12-member Canada-wide delegation to the region, an area aided by the Social Justice Fund of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).

Supplied photo by Jasmine Verge Wolseleyites Sandra Stuart and Ken Friesen help build the roof of a medical clinic during a recent work delegation to Guatemala, organized by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) Social Justice Fund.

Ken has been a member of this union for 25 years. You may know Sandra. She owns, and teaches at Prana Yoga, at 987 Portage Ave. near Sherburn Street.

PSAC members contribute money to the Social Justice Fund, which supports community projects worldwide, for example in Guatemala, textile, coffee and fish-farming cooperatives.

The Fund’s Education in Action Program enables volunteers, who apply and are selected, to meet and work with local people at PSAC-supported cooperatives.

 “Education in Action is about educating us, so we can come back to Canada and do something with that education,” said Sandra.

She and Ken helped build a school and medical clinic using local techniques, met with an environmental rights lawyer who represents Mayan causes (and has been shot as a result) and attended a frontline, anti-mining protest.

Said Ken, “For me, the most important thing is the work of the CCDA.” That’s the Farmers’ Committee of the Highlands cooperative. “They’re using primarily ancient Mayan farming techniques, based on the lunar calendar, and working with universities, confirming that their knowledge is based in science.”

For the coffee plants, they harvest a natural pesticide gathered from the waste product of composting worms.

Sandra noted that because of the Social Justice Fund’s assistance, workers at the CCDA earn $15 daily rather than the $5 at other nearby farms. CCDA coffee is organic, shade grown, free trade and high quality.

Before leaving for Guatemala, delegates were asked to consider how they might continue helping Mayan families upon their return. After meeting the coffee workers, Sandra asked for 30 pounds of CCDA’s Café Justicia to sell at her yoga studio.              
       
She’s already had to order more. Dark or medium roast, whole bean or ground, a one-pound bag costs $13. Every cent is returned to the workers.

Brew some social justice at home. Contact: sandrastuart5@gmail.com

Gail Perry is a community correspondent for Wolseley. She can be reached at: gailperry.writer@gmail.com

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