Register for the next Matthew 25 Online Event – Eradicating Systemic Poverty: Global Issues

International Grants

 

International Funded Partners

Since 1970, the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People has been a partner in grassroots projects around the world that seek to improve the lives of poor and underserved people. Our mission has been, and continues to be, a God-inspired work “toward the self-development of economically poor, oppressed and disadvantaged people who own, control and benefit directly” from such projects.

As situations in 1970 directed concerned people to launch the SDOP ministry, so situations in 2006 directed concerned people to re-examine the nature of that work and its methods. Spreading funds thinly across the world no longer seemed effective. In 2006 SDOP determined it was time to become more focused and proactive in responding to the plight of people living in poverty. From 2006 to 2010 the ministry established long-term, committed and focused relationships with community groups in the Dominican Republic; during that same time, partnerships were establish with intermediary partners in different parts of the world who work directly with communities of economically poor, oppressed and disadvantaged people. Using the SDOP criteria, they established partnerships in their region. In 2010 SDOP moved its focused funding from the Dominican Republic to Belize. An intermediary partnership was established in the Dominican Republic with CE-Mujer to continue the work of SDOP. In 2013 SDOP established an intermediary partnership with the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda.

Panama and other partnerships in Guatemala and Nicaragua

The Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People (SDOP) National Committee has been working in Panama since 2017. SDOP has established several partnerships with economically poor grassroots groups in these years.

Panama is a country in Central America, bordered by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital and largest city is Panama City, its metropolitan area is home to nearly half the country’s 4 million people. It is a country of contrasts and inequalities.

Fifty percent of the population in Panama is poor. The economic inequality between urban and rural areas is extraordinary. There is a huge contrast between the richest and poorest people. The wealth of the country is not well distributed.

At the beginning of 2019 three community groups were approved for funding by SDOP: Craft Art and Beauty, Group of Women of Value, S.A., and the Panamanian Women Center (CEMP). After a year of these funding, the three groups have made a significant impact on the group member’s life, even when their work was affected by COVID 19.

The Craft Art and Beauty project let staff know that they were able to continue working from home during the pandemic, producing traditional clothing and accessories.

The group of Women of Value were affected because they were not able to do more events because people were scared to order food without seeing the food preparation. Their next goal was to acquire a Food Truck to take their services to their clients and that they can see the preparation of food. At the same time allow people to see the group members are responsible for managing the new health parameters required by the Ministry of Health to avoid the spread of covid-19, the regulatory use of surgical-type hairnets, masks and gloves as well as disposable aprons. The group submitted a request for additional funds to buy a Food truck to allow them continuing with their services. The International Task Force approved their request.

The Panamanian Women’s Center has pivoted their work to virtual platforms and requested technical assistance funds to do so. The Taskforce approved the request.

After a visit on August 2019 to The Protestant Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America (CEDEPCA) in Guatemala, the International Task Force approved to start the partnership with the group in Guatemala. For this moment on CEDEPCA was the SDOP Intermediary partner in Guatemala, they will use SDOP criteria to fund projects in Guatemala. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, CEDEPCA requested that $25,000 of their annual $32,500 grant be allocated to COVID-19 response. The Taskforce approved the request.

At the end of 2019 the International Task Force were able to award a grant for an Indigenous group in Darien, Panama, located in a remote indigenous community, Women Committee at Villa Nueva and Water Council. The funds were for the construction of a rural aqueduct. A 1500-gallon cement tank-container for water will be built and connections will be made from the tank on several supply routes, providing each house with a spigot. There are 52 houses and a school. It is needed so that each house has access to clean water for human consumption.

The indigenous group in Darien, reported that after many logistical difficulties due to the pandemic, they were able to withdraw the funds in order to continue the work to install a water system in their remote rural community which is only accessible by motorized canoe.

In 2020, the International Task Force started a partnership with a youth group in Colon, Panama, the Colonense International Performing Arts Foundation (FAECI). The project works with youth who are street artists (performing at stoplights, often homeless and at-risk Afro-Panamanian youth) to provide stability, training, mentorship, support for those who may be addicted to alcohol and/or drugs, and a source of revenue via paid engagements. To provide sustainability into the future, they plan to launch a small bakery and café to sell baked goods and ice cream locally, create crafts from recycled materials for sale to tourists, launch a line of printed t-shirts and other clothing, and start a mobile kiosk for sales at events and festivals.

Later, the International Task Force met via Zoom with the Interchurch Center for Theological and Social Studies (CIEETS), located in Managua Nicaragua. CIETS have started to function as SDOP intermediary partner in Nicaragua. They will use SDOP criteria to fund projects in Nicaragua.

A farmer group in Panama, the United Producers of Valle San Miguel, has been recently approved for funding. The project is to purchase supplies, equipment, and plots of land to increase production plantain and a variety of vegetables to increase food security for the people involved in the project, and to generate income to sustain production in the long-term.

A Women group that was visited by SDOP team in 2019, the Chilibre women’s training center, Gonzalillo Community Organization and Women’s Meeting Space that includes women’s groups from San Miguelito, December 24, and Calidonia, has recently submitted their project for consideration.

Other potential partners from Panama are working with SDOP to submit proposals, including other Indigenous group who are interested to install a water system in their remote village.

The partnership in Panama is benefiting underserved communities and supporting and sharing the empowerment of poor people in rural and urban areas in Panama.


Belize

belize-marigold-womens-coopIn 2010, the International Task Force identified the country of focused engagement for the next six years as Belize, the northern most Central American nation—bordered on the north by Mexico, on the south and west by Guatemala and on the east by the Caribbean Sea.

Belize is a country of contrast.  The initial tourist image quickly fades into a much more complex image dealing with issues of urban squalor and rural poverty.  The rural poverty is especially prevalent in the southern part of the country.  The two southern most districts are Stann Creek and Toledo.   Our first visits to Belize have been educational and relationship building, particularly relating to Stann Creek and Toledo.  These two districts are home to the indigenous cultures of the Mayan and Garifuna (descendants of Carib Indians and African slaves) people.   This is a country rich in culture.  The people are warm, friendly and confident in their ability to face life’s challenges, both old and new ones, together making a better world for themselves, their children, communities, and country.

Partnerships in Belize

Intermediary Partners

Presbyterian Church of Rwanda

Rwanda

The Presbyterian Church of Rwanda has responded to the COVID-19 crisis. They have gotten creative with the ongoing closure of churches and are visiting parishioners via phone and WhatsApp; providing food relief and the means to raise livestock to community members; and assisting families whose houses and property have been destroyed in recent heavy rains.

Centro de Solidaridad Para el Desarrollo de la Mujer, Inc.(CE-MUJER)

Dominican Republic

CE-MUJER is committed to improving the quality of life for women and communities by assisting in their empowerment for gender equality through self-management, education, training in non-traditional technical skills, income generation, health and public politics with influence on both the national and local level.

Focus Country

In 2005 when Self-Development of People instituted ‘The Mission Funding Strategy for the International Task Force of the Self-Development of People’, a five year pilot program, the country identified for focused funding was the Dominican Republic.  This segment of the strategy has proven to be an effective way of engaging in partnership with communities in a specific country.  The pilot program has evolved into the “SDOP International Partnership Development Mission Strategy.”  The partnerships established have been and continue to be about hope, dignity, empowerment, justice, and compassion.

Partnerships in the Dominican Republic

About Belize

The country of focused engagement beginning in 2011 is Belize, the northern most Central American nation — bordered on the north by Mexico, on the south and west by Guatemala and on the east by the Caribbean Sea.

Belize is a country of contrast. The initial tourist image quickly fades into a much more complex image dealing with issues of urban squalor and rural poverty.  The rural poverty is especially prevalent in the southern part of the country. The two southern most districts are Stann Creek and Toledo. Our first visits to Belize have been educational and relationship building, particularly relating to Stann Creek and Toledo. These two districts are home to the indigenous cultures of the Mayan and Garifuna (descendants of Carib Indians and African slaves) people. This is a country rich in culture. The people are warm, friendly and confident in their ability to face life’s challenges, both old and new ones, together making a better world for themselves, their children, communities, and country.

SDOP’s work in Belize

In 2010, The Presbyterian Committee of the Self Development of People selected Belize as a focus country as a part of the new international funding strategy.  After the first visits to the country, in 2011 it was decided to work with grassroots’ communities located in the southern part of the country because of the precarious poverty conditions in this region.

Since then the International Task Force members and staff have worked and continue working to build relationship with communities in Stann Creek and Toledo Districts. These are mainly Mayan and Garifuna (descendants of Caribbean Indians and African slaves) communities. We have conducted numerous workshops in different cities such as Belize City, San Antonio, Belmopan, Dangriga, Seine Bight, Placencia, Punta Gorda, and San Ignacio. We have visited many Mayan villages and visited several community groups.

In this work we have been assisted by several partners in the country such as US Peace Corp volunteers, community organizers, church leaders, and officers from the Department of Cooperative and Agriculture. The Belize Department of Cooperatives is one of the main partners that has helped us to know the communities in need, helped the groups with the funding process, helped the communications between the groups and us, etc. This collaboration is highly appreciated on our part because the groups funded have achieved their goals and are seeing drastic changes in their lives and in their communities.

To date we have established partnership with nine grassroots groups in Belize and we are looking forward to establish more in years to come.

This is the list of the nine groups funded, including their names, location, amount funded, description of their grants, and group pictures:

Hopkins Farmers Cooperative Society Ltd, Hopkins Village
$19,600

A group of farmers from the Hopkins Village area of Belize have come together to form a co-op with the intent of manufacturing cereal from locally produced grains.
Sandy Beach Women’s Cooperative Society Limited, Hopkins Village
$20,050

Started in 1984 this is the oldest Garifuna women owned cooperative in Belize. They are working to re-build their hotel which was destroyed twice by fire. The SDOP grant will enable them to complete their facility used for meetings, catering, and selling lunches.
Marigold Women’s Group, Toledo District
$20,000

This group of indigenous Mayan women has started a local roadside restaurant which creates employment for the members and improves the community.
Rio Grande Fisherman Cooperative, Punta Gorda
$20,000

The grant to the fishermen cooperative was to expand the group’s facility that would allow them to store sea cucumbers before exporting to China and to have a larger area to clean fish and be able to display for sale to their Punta Gorda customers.
Placencia Tour Guide Cooperative, Placencia 
$3,500

This group of local tour guide operators is trying to survive with the influx of resort and cruise ship tour guides coming into the community. The funds will be used for technical assistance to cover capacity building, transportation, rent and office equipment.
Maya Freshwater Cooperative, near Punta Gorda
$19,500
Through our partnership this rural community group has been able to build a two room cement building that will house a small store and a computer lab for the community. The building will also serve as a hurricane shelter.
Seine Bight Village Council, Seine Bight Village
$19,910

The grant will assist this indigenous community in revitalizing its village through painting blighted homes, installing speed humps to slow traffic and restoring a local reservoir. Group members will install signage and educate the community about health, safety and unity as first steps toward attracting and benefitting from the burgeoning tourist industry in the region.
Trio Farmers in Development Pre-Cop, Trio Village   
$20,042

This grant will enable farmers of this cooperative to try new methods of growing seedlings in “tunnels” that will improve the yield of their crops.
Sandy Beach Women’s Cooperative Society Limited   
$22,500

Additional funds were approved for the purchase of an additional cabaña, extension of kitchen facilities and developing proper marketing strategies to effectively market the cooperative business owned and operated by this group of indigenous Garifuna women.
 El Paraiso Agriculture Cooperatives Society Ltd, Bella Vista Village 
$20,071 

This group of 72 active members realized their crops and the crops of their farmers in the area were being poorly marketed. To alleviate this problem they are establishing a distribution center for local produce. The partnership with SDOP will assist in the construction of the center.