Weaving in the community For our childhood and adolescence
Tejiendo Futuros [Weaving Futures] is a not-for-profit organisation based in Panajachel. It takes a holistic approach to its main purpose, which is supporting the municipality’s children and adolescents. It runs three programmes: the Tree of Childhood (education), Kaulew (agroecology) and Strengthened Families (psychosocial). These programmes are specifically designed to cover the basic needs of the organisation’s member boys and girls. Tejiendo Futuros is presently made up of 25 consultants and 59 member families. Ingrid Villaseñor, founder and general director, uses a quote by Mother Teresa to sum up the organisation’s activities: “Putting love into action” for all the members who work together to make the dream of a better Guatemala possible.
To understand the organisation’s work, it is important to understand the founder, Ingrid’s story. She was born in Guatemala City to a nuclear family, with a social conscience and a profound love for her country. She grew up during the armed conflict and experienced the conflict directly when her father was kidnapped and killed when she was only ten years of age. She and her four sisters were left under the sole care of their mother, who was the epitome of courage and struggle. Gigi, as she was nicknamed at a young age, became a mother herself at the age of twenty. She first-hand recognised the importance of her role as a guide, friend, teacher, and mother. Her love for her children was something she shared with her other students at the Educasa School in Panajachel, and the boys and girls who hailed from the most remote Quiché communities.
The lack of protection for children in Guatemala led Gigi to act. She had observed and experienced the daily struggles and abandonment children in her community faced. Hunger, child labour, addiction, neglect, and child abuse became latent problems for Ingrid. In 2018 she decided to found her own organisation. She named it ‘Tejiendo Futuros’ based upon the idea that “each person who joins the organisation is a thread that contributes to the weaving of a social fabric”. The goal of this fabric, at first, was entirely focused on the creation of a holistic educational programme for the children of Panajachel. Thus, the Tree of Childhood was born, which has been attended by 76 boys and girls between 4 and 15 years old to date.
A few months later it became clear there was a need for an environmental programme too. Kaulew means ‘our land’ in the indigenous Kaqchiquel language. Our land, just like our children, needs a series of special care and attention. That care and attention is transformed into the opportunity to harvest food grown without the use of chemicals, food which is then converted into nutrients that aid physical and mental development. The food that Kaulew produces today goes directly to the member families of Tejiendo Futuros.
In 2020, COVID-19 attacked every corner of the world, forcing men, women, and children to lock themselves up at home. The Tejiendo Futuros community was directly affected. The majority of the mothers and fathers lost their jobs. This further exacerbated their already precarious economic and psychosocial conditions. The families that were already living in conditions of poverty went on to live in extreme poverty; those already living in extreme poverty were barely able to survive. Collective stress aggravated instances of domestic violence. The organisation identified a considerable number of member families within which at least one member, most likely a woman, experienced some form of violence at the hands of their partner.
These problems were made visible and thus Strengthened Families was born, the newest programme run by Tejiendo Futuros. The strengthening of mothers and fathers is also important, as they are the ones who raise the children and follow the processes with them. Strengthened Families teaches topics such as self-esteem, self-care, hygiene, neglect, creativity, and recreation, and the most important allies the children can have on this path to self-development are their parents. Currently, the organisation works with 51 mothers and 15 fathers undertaking activities. Individual psychosocial care and psychoeducation workshops are also run. The precepts of the programme lie in inclusion, teamwork, and having an open space free from prejudice, where everyone’s voices are heard.
Tejiendo Futuros is an organisation committed to its members. The consultants work with love, responsibility, and respect, for the children and adolescents of Panajachel.