Skills Training Programs/Community Projects
FTF has built three training centers in remote areas of the Highlands, where classes are conducted for the poor. The FTF Guatemalan staff arranges with governmental agencies and local non-profit organizations to offer classes to help sponsored families learn skills to better support themselves. Tuition and materials costs are covered by the monthly donations of family sponsors. Some donors wish to help in other ways. Due to the number of individually sponsored families being limited, FTF also manages community projects that serve the poor of the Highlands. When sponsored families do not take up all the available class openings, non-sponsored families of the local area are encouraged to take part in these individual self-help and community programs.
Nutrition & Women's Programs
Courses have been offered to raise women's self esteem and encourage them to take an active role in community affairs and decisions. These classes range from family health and nutrition to a woman’s participation in entrepreneurial activities. The FTF program also helps fund some start up ventures, such as stores.
Baking & Cooking
Courses in cooking and baking skills have helped improve the diets of hundreds of native families. In addition, a new bakery (with a large beehive oven) has been built in one of the villages, and some families are now baking goods for sale.
Sewing, Weaving & Embroidery
Courses have been offered to provide women with skills such as sewing,weaving, hand embroidery and machine embroidery. (Sewing machines were donated by a firm in Spokane.) The quality level of handcrafted goods is now extremely high.
Gardening, Fruit, & Christmas Trees
Many families now grow vegetable gardens. Some of the cooking and nutrition classes are offered in conjunction with gardening programs to demonstrate how to prepare foods and how vegetables (in addition to corn) help improve nutrition. Nearly 700 families have been trained in vegetable growing and organic garden projects, and most families on the program begin to grow fruit trees. Christmas tree production has also become a source of income for several families.
Guatemalan families are "close to the earth" in many ways. In the past, they have depended upon agricultural products, such as corn, chickens, or home-grown products for their survival. Families on the program are now learning improved ways of raising chickens, goats, sheep, beef, etc. They take course work in the proper feeding and care for their animals, including the need for vaccinations. This helps improve their production of domestic animals. Over two hundred hundred families on the FTF program have had some form of livestock production training (e.g. for cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, etc.)
Families participating in the new coffee production project, hike several hours from their homes at 10,000 + ft elevation to a more tropical coastal area where they stay and work for one week at a time. The harvested coffee beans must then be picked, dried, and carried out over a mountain range to be taken to the city for roasting.
The FTF reforestation program was begun about 20 years ago and now includes over 10 locations in the Highlands. The program provides employment and training for forest managers and the forests are now a source of fire wood for native families and lumber for construction. In addition the forests are making a very positive environmental impact by retaining ground water and generating springs in previously barren areas. The FTF reforestation program has been cited as a model program and has received considerable national and international recognition.
FTF provides job-related training for individuals and communities, but FTF's mission does not include direct support for schools and educational programs. However, children of the poor must often begin working in the corn fields or collecting firewood for sale at an early age. So schooling is sometimes limited because of economics. Support from sponsors and funds directed toward education, help enable poor families to send their children to local schools.
Many communities are very remote, with no road access. Road construction is not a major ongoing activity of FTF. However, some roads and bridges have been constructed in the past to provide access to very isolated communities, like Tzamjuyub, where FTF constructed a training center. Much of the road work can be done by manual labor, but some rocks are even a challenge for tractors.
Trade Centers & Construction Projects
With the help of grant and sponsor funding, FTF has constructed 3 training centers in the Highlands. The facility in Ixtahuacan (shown here), at the 7,500 ft level, includes a bakery with a large beehive oven. The training center in Nueva Ixtahuacan or known as “Alaska” or “Chwi Petan” was constructed in conjunction with a new health clinic and serves families at the 11,000 ft elevation level.