Three Weeks With the ILAG Community

Date posted: Wednesday 07 December 2022

Joan Felice and Randee Edmundson regularly serve as remote instructors at the Milagro Center in Guatemala City, an education center for women between 12-20 years of age. They recently returned from an extended stint supporting sustainable agricultural projects in Guatemala. Joan is a member of St. Michael's, Roseville; Randee attends Grace University, Minneapolis. Here is a summary of their visit, along with some photos:

Guatemala City

We arrived in Guatemala City on Oct. 23. Our first week was teaching the Milagro young women in the morning and the 5th-6th graders at CLAG. At Milagro, our focus was good nutrition and understanding global warming and climate justice for their families and country. For the middle schoolers, they wanted English language learning activities; we focused on greetings, favorite activities, the water cycle and good nutrition.


Rural Villages

On Oct. 28, Diego drove us to La Esmeralda, Peten Region, to volunteer for seven days. Next, Regional Pastor Julio escorted us by public transport to Santa Amelia to volunteer for an additional seven days. Randee’s role was to spend the month listening, watching, and sharing the passion for growing food in community with ILAG’s Seed Program partnership families. In La Esmeralda, Randee worked with 15 families in their gardens, reviewing successes, struggles and digging new beds, adding compost and planting seeds adjusting for methods to meet their needs. In Santa Amelia she met with eight families and one group of 12 women, Las Mujeres de Sembradoras. This group has a large parcel of land that they work together to grow vegetables for sale and for their families. Through the help of the ILAG’s Seed Program, the group was able to write a grant and receive funds for a well, a pump and an irrigation system. In addition, the Seed Program provided every participating family with five varieties of seeds.


Fresh, Hot Tortillas and Guatemalan Hospitality

A lasting memory of our time in Guatemala is the baskets of hot, fresh tortillas that were served at almost every meal. The tortillas became the symbol of the welcome and care the residents in La Esmerelda and Santa Amelia gave to us when we were visiting their villages. The generous meals and mealtimes led to discussions of the hopes, concerns, interests and food knowledge of the families supplying the meals.


We were struck by how much time and energy the making of black bean puree took for the people who did not have electricity or electric blenders. Always the cooks were cheerful and made us feel welcomed in their home. The 79th birthday celebration for Don Leonardo in Santa Amelia was a great example of community support and celebration for a fellow church member. The nutrition workshops Joan offered were well received in La Esmerelda and Santa Amelia. The participants were thoughtful and motivated. She is convinced that our experiences will help us to promote both better eating habits and use of the garden produce to improve the health and well-being of the participants in the program.