It was 2014 when the very first group from Cary Presbyterian Church in Cary, North Carolina, traveled to Guatemala to investigate establishing a relationship with an indigenous Mayan community to determine if a partnership could be formed to benefit the people in Guatemala. The goal was to determine what type of support and/or assistance could be provided to improve the quality of life in the area.
They found Nimasac with the help of their two Guatemalan partners, Martin and Mario, whom they had met during a previous trip with another church.
The following year Cary Presbyterian Church (CPC) and Iglesia Presbyteriana Monte Sinai signed a covenant. From the start, it was understood that Esperanza, as this mission was beginning to be known, would evolve beyond CPC’s ministry, and become a wholly separate entity, maintaining a partnership with both churches, open to all and a vehicle through which both these congregations could launch a helping mission to people in Nimasac, Guatemala.
Moving to the nonprofit Esperanza de Guatemala
Mid 2017 brought the creation of Esperanza de Guatemala, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization made up of people passionate about helping the community of Nimasac and the greater Nimsac community. Esperanza values the existing relationships we have with Cary Presbyterian Church, Cary NC, USA and Iglesia Presbyteriana Monte Sinai, Nimasac, Guatemala, and desires to form more partnerships with other non-profits working in Guatemala and the U.S.
Respect for Guatemalan friends
Esperanza is aware of the concerns expressed in the book “When Helping Hurts,” by Stephen Corbett and Brian Fikkert, which explains how mission trips and non-profits can actually hurt the economy of developing countries. From the beginning, Esperanza has paid attention to these concerns and has patterned its work in Guatemala on the important idea of partnership. Our Guatemalan friends requested an agricultural project; this was not something we would have initially developed. We have been able to provide scholarships, building funds, and more to further benefit the community. The approach is anything but “one and done”. Instead, a committee of Guatemalans is formed, complete with officers, to plan, implement shared-decision making, and to follow up as problems occur. For construction projects, a Nimasac Building Committee provides a daily construction supervisor, handles payments, and schedules the work. We trust our work is for development, not rescue, with the ultimate goal of encouraging sustainability.
Focus and Emphasis
The focus of our partnership includes educational opportunity, economic development, improving agricultural practices, and supporting access to quality health. Our current emphasis is on education and providing resources to improve access and quality and the student’s ability to continue their education. These priorities are identified and established in partnership. The people in the Guatemalan community prioritize needs, and it is the supporters of Esperanza who respond “yes, we can help.” While the needs far surpass the resources currently available, our desire is to continue our efforts and build upon the partnership’s successes as resources allow.