Vocational Center in Guatemala Teaches Baking, Dressmaking and Literacy

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (March 15, 2010) - For those who once scrounged for recyclable scraps of metal or bottles at the garbage dumps in the hopes of a meager payment - the Quetzaltenango vocational skills training program offers hope for a future. The program teaches people how to attain self-sufficiency and financial independence.

“One of the best ways to help the poor is to empower them to help themselves,” said Angel Aloma, Food For The Poor’s Executive Director. “Construction of the Vocational Center Corazón de Jesús has provided the people who once rummaged through the trash the chance to dream again and give their families a better life.”

With the initiation of three new vocational skills training programs - baking, dressmaking and literacy - many more opportunities are now available. The project, funded by parishioners of St. Peter of Alcantara in Port Washington, N.Y., supplied the center with the equipment needed for hands-on training consisting of 10 industrial electric sewing machines (with attachments), six heavy-duty clothes irons, two industrial stoves, two heavy-duty bakery mixers, and a computer for training and record keeping. Approximately 78 people have registered to take classes.

For several years, Food For The Poor has worked in this remote village in Guatemala. Aurelia Pac has registered for classes at the vocational center and is a personal testament to how Food For The Poor donors have helped the community escape the cycle of poverty. With access to water provided by a Food For The Poor project, women like Aurelia no longer walk hours to collect water for their family; instead they attend school, and will be able to apply for jobs. Additional Food For The Poor housing has given village residents a sense of security.

With more than half of Guatemala’s population living below the poverty line, the vocational center will provide poor families the opportunity to learn a trade to earn an income.

Julie and Michael Giunta, parishioners, along with Sister Connie Kelly, Director of Parish Outreach and Spanish Apostolate Ministry at St. Peter of Alcantara, traveled to Guatemala to attend the inauguration of the Vocational Center Corazón de Jesús in November 2009.

Inspired by the Giunta’s, the parish youth group plans to raise money to buy sneakers and hygiene kits for the people of Quetzaltenango. The Giunta family also has funded a chicken farm project for the community.

The church continues to fundraise to provide the necessary supplies and to maintain the vocational center’s training classes. To support their effort, please make checks out to Food For The Poor and include a special code “SC# 70152” so the money can be tracked for the initiative. All gifts are tax-deductible. Donations can also be made through the charity’s secure Web site at www.foodforthepoor.org/CorazondeJesus.

Food For The Poor, the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian agency provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For additional information please visit our Web site www.foodforthepoor.org.

Jennifer Leigh Oates

Public Relations

954.427.2222, ext. 6054