woman in pink
March 2010
WelcomeWelcome to Mary's Pence

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Welcome to Mary's Pence first monthly eNewsletter.  We are excited to have this new way to communicate, and to show you the impact your contributions make in the lives of women.

Each month we will highlight the story of a grantee, ways for donors to get involved, an article focused on justice, and a prayerful reflection.  This month we highlight a new ESPERA Fund in Guatemala.  Next month we will highlight a U.S. grantee.

If you are a writer and would like to contribute let us know.  We welcome people interested in writing articles on related topics, or interviewing a grant recipient and writing a highlight article.

Send us your feedback, we'd love to hear from you.


Executive Director
Grant Grant Highlights

Asociación de Mujeres Sembradoras de Esperanza
Women of the Asociacion de Mujeres Sembradoras de Esperanza
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The indigenous women of Asociación de Mujeres Sembradoras de Esperanza, of Santa Cruz de Quiché, Guatemala have been working on organizing and supporting each other for 6 years.  The Asociación is made up of 14 groups from local communities, and they are Mary's Pence newest ESPERA Fund Partner.

With an initial $5,000 grant, 40 women in two communities have received loans of 1000 quetzals.  With these loans the women have purchased animals for breeding, supplies for their corn crops (a staple in Guatemala) and treats for their families.  Mary's Pence will work with the women of the Asociación to expand the fund to reach more women over the next couple of years.

An ESPERA Fund is a grant to a women's networks to create a lending pool in their community.  The women own the funds and manage the funds.  Mary's Pence provides additional support during the first few years with resources for training and for travel and meals for gatherings and sometimes a coordinator's salary.  We accompany the group on this new enterprise by visiting with the women 2-4 times per year.

In Guatemala women seldom hold property or have access to resources.  These loans provide a way for women to increase the prosperity of their families and gain some personal independence.  Each group in the Asociación has a leadership team which visits the women who receive loans to provide support. 

Sr. Maruca
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The Asociación was founded by Sr. Marucha, a local indigenous woman.  She has worked with the women to form as a group, develop their spirituality, and gain leadership skills.  When the groups first formed, women were reluctant to speak in a group.  During a recent visit with Mary's Pence Fund Facilitator Gilda Larios and Executive Director Katherine Wojtan, groups created agendas, told their stories, and frequently did the translation from Quiche, the local language, to Spanish.

During this visit women shared their stories of the difficulties of their daily lives, and how they still have anger and fear from the events of the armed conflict of the '80s.  One woman told how she survived by hiding among dead bodies, and how after finding her parents a couple days later they were so traumatized they did not know their own children.

It is a privilege to be a part of the journey that these women are taking to improve their communities and gain economic security.  As donors, you are part of that journey.

Photos: Katherine Wojtan
Take Mary's Pence In Action

Mary's Pence Celebrates International Women's Day In NY

Adriana Pacosillo, Olga Patricia Garcia Cuz and Maria Ayda Azogue Tixilema
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On March 8th Mary's Pence hosted a gathering of women in New York City. Donors and staff  came together to hear the stories of indigenous women from Ecuador, Guatemala and Bolivia.  The women are participants of the learning centers of the Salesian Sisters in those countries.  They and the Sisters were in New York to participate in the UN Commission on the Status of Women.  Mary's Pence partially funded their trip.

Each woman told stories of poverty and struggle, and of the assistance the Salesian sisters offered.  This included learning to read, learning Spanish, and gaining income generating skills such as sewing and crafts.  It also included a greater sense of self esteem, faith and community with other women.

Adriana Pacosillo and Sr. Bernadetter Sangma
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Adriana Pacosillo, of Bolivia, has a husband and eight children.  At the center she learned to make dresses and other handicraft, including the beautiful clothing she wears.  She says "At the Centre, among other things and in a climate of solidarity, I also learned to express myself and learned to organize different cultural events.  I am forming myself to be a leader and I have overcome the fear to speak in public."


Olga Patricia Garcia Cuz

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Olga Patricia García Cuz, from Guatemala, is a single mother of two daughters, and received no help from the fathers of her children or her brother. She spoke movingly: "Three years ago, I was sad because I did not have a permanent job and I did not know how to help my daughters."  Patricia now has a job and finds other ways to gain income, and feels strength from being associated with the project and the other women of the project.

Maria Ayda Azogue Tixilema
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María Ayda Azogue Tixilema, from Ecuador, started learning at the centers at an early age and states "the human values they taught me helped me become independent, make my decisions, gain self-esteem and respect.  From the social point of view, the formation I received helped me to improve my economic situation not so much in acquiring wealth, but in learning to administer the things in my family and live with what is essential in dignity."  María has been able to earn a bachelor's degree and wants to teach kindergarten.

Attending the UN Commission on the Status of Women gave the women greater understanding that indigenous women around the world struggle with issues of poverty, violence and discrimination. 

In the spirit of community and support, a new connection was formed by the women and a previous grantee organization, the Maura Clarke - Ita Ford Center, which equips immigrant women with the skills they need to live and work in their new homeland. Janet Henriquez, a representative from MCIF who attended the Mary's Pence gathering, extended a gracious invitation to the women to attend the MCIF's International Women's Day celebration, taking place the following day. The women were welcomed by the MCIF students and at the end of their visit, they were presented with a generous surprise gift - seven boxes of material to take back home with them to use in their sewing and crafting endeavors.

Salesian Sisters staff and participants, with Mary's Pence supporters and staff
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Mary's Pence was pleased to make this visit possible.  We value the connection with contributors to Mary's Pence, with the Salesian Sisters and the courageous women from Guatemala, Ecuador and Bolivia that came and shared their stories.

We thank SisterFund for the use of their conference room for this meeting.

Photos: Justine Cudel
JusticeJustice Issue

Oscar Romero, Presente!

Oscar Romero
Oscar Romero is a revered person in El Salvador and across the world for his stance against injustice and for his willingness to risk and to lose his life for standing with the oppressed.  This March 24th is the 30th anniversary of his death.
Learn more:
  • View the movie "Romero"-- Powerful dramatization of the last three years in the life of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador whose condemnation of human rights abuses led to his assassination in 1980.  (A-II) (PG-13) (1989) Review from US Conference of Catholic Bishops website: http://www.usccb.org/movies/r/romero1989.shtml
Top of page
In This Issue

Asociación de Mujeres Sembradoras de Esperanza

Mary's Pence Celebrates International Women's Day in NY

Oscar Romero, Presente!

Prayerful Reflection


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A prayer for Haiti by Rose Marie Berger

Most Holy Creator God, Lord of heaven and earth,
we bring before you today your people of Haiti.
It is You who set in motion the stars and seas,
You who raised up the mountains of the Massif de la Hotte
and Pic La Selle. It is You who made her people in your very image:
Their gregarious hearts and generous spirits,
their hunger and thirst for righteousness and liberty.
It is you, O Lord, who planted the rhythms of konpa, Twoubadou,
and zouk in the streets of Cite-Soleil; You who walk the paths
outside of Jacmel and Hinche. Your people, O Lord, cry out to you.
Haiti , O Haiti: The world's oldest black republic,
the second-oldest republic in the Western world.

God, You are the One who answers the cries of the suffering.
You are a God who sees, frees, and redeems your people.
"I too have heard the moaning of my people," you spoke to Moses.
Now, Lord, speak again to Chanté, Agwe, Nadege, and Jean Joseph.
Speak now, O Lord, and comfort Antoine, Jean-Baptiste,
Toto, and Djakout. Raise up your people from the ash heap
of destruction and give them strong hearts and hands,
shore up their minds and spirits. Help them to bear this new burden.

As for us, Lord, we who are far away from the rubble and the dust,
from the sobbing and moans, but who hold them close in our hearts,
imbue us with the strength of Simon the Cyrene.
Help us to carry the Haitian cross. Show us how to lighten
their yoke with our prayers, our aid, our resources. Teach
us to work harder for justice in our own country and dignity in Haiti,
so that we may stand with integrity when we hold our Haitian families
in our arms once again. We ask this in the name of Jezikri,
Jesus Christ. Amen.

Mary's Pence has periodically provided grants to organizations in Haiti and will continue to welcome grant applications.  We keep the people of Haiti in our prayers, as well as the people of Chile, and other peoples facing destruction from environmental events.

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