Leading her community: Why one young Guatemalan woman decided to stay

Written by Sarah Crozier

Angelita GuatemalaAngelita GuatemalaAngelita stands outside her local Nuevo Eden Coffee Co-op. [photo: America Magazine]At only 18 years old, Angelita is already a leader in her community. A volunteer firefighter, midwife and highly skilled in coffee cultivation, she commands more respect than her age would suggest.

These days, Angelita Paz Cardona works with her community to train them on nutrition, animal care and financial management. Through the training and support of NCBA CLUSA’s USAID-funded Cooperative Development Project in Guatemala, Angelita works as a promoter in her community.

Nuevo Progresso, the aptly named “New Progress” municipality in San Marcos, Guatemala has seen heavy rates of migration—including three of Angelita’s own brothers—but Angelita has stayed, working with her community and a local coffee co-op.

“Our vocation is the serve the community… I want to prove that Guatemala can move forward and that our country can distinguish itself not just because of immigration, but right here, with our own products,” Angelita said.

Nuevo Progresso community leaders nominated Angelita for the promoter-trainer position when NCBA CLUSA connected with them through local partner the Association of Coffee Cooperatives (ANACAFE). As part of her work with the community she is in charge of a demonstration unit, which helps community members see for themselves the techniques and nutrition benefits of poultry and small animal care.

Angelita also works with her local coffee co-op Nuevo Eden (New Eden), where she recently spoke with America Magazine about another project she is involved in with Catholic Relief Services.

You can learn more about Guatemala's Western Highlands region, and watch a video interview with Angelita and her involvement in the co-op here.