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No. 56 • January - June 2013 • Page 113
 •  Initiatives

Guatemala City, (Guatemala) -- Junkabal at 50

“Junkabal,” which in the Maya-Cakchiquel language means “warmth of a home,” was born in 1963. It sought to offer professional training to women in Guatemala City who worked as sellers in the Central Market or who collected discarded items. The six foundresses—Olga de Mirón, Frances de Fischer, María Martha de Maegli, Márgara de Fischer, Conchita de Lara and Martha Novella—refurbished a small house in the city and began giving courses in cooking, flower care and arrangement, piñata-making, and needlework. Since then, 50,000 Guatemalan women and their families have benefited from the programs at Junkabal, and have been incorporated into the country’s labor market or begun small businesses.

A milestone in the history of Junkabal was the construction in 1971 of the buildings that replaced the original small house, on land donated by a businessman, Samuel Camhi. The programs of professional training are now held there, and a school offers education from the pre-primary level to a high school degree. Scholarships and subsidies are available for the needier students.

In 1983, a program to help women from the poorest neighborhoods was begun. They are taught how to use recycled material to make women’s pocketbooks and costume jewelry, which they can sell to improve their family’s finances.

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