Thursday, July 7, 2011

Volunteering in Guatemala: Education and More- Solola

Many people want to get involved with volunteering in Guatemala, but know little about the organizations available or what those organizations do. This is one in a series of interviews with amazing volunteer organizations in Guatemala.

Karen Pickett (pictured below, right) is the director of Education and More, a Fair Trade Federation non-profit group dedicated to getting weaving by Guatemalan women of the Solola region exposure, income and education for their family.

1. Who are you and how did you get interested in Guatemala? My
initial visit to Guatemala was with a mission team to help build
houses and when I met some women weavers and got to know them it got
me interested in helping them sell their handcrafts and weavings.
Education And More was born as a result and is a Christian, Fair
Trade nonprofit, registered in the United States as a 501c3
nonprofit organization.

2. How did you get in contact with or start Education and More? I am
the founder / Director of E&M and started the organization in 2006
to help the women artisans I had met sell their weavings and to help
them educate their children.

3. What is Education and More's goal in their Guatemalan community? Our primary mission is two fold -- educating children and helping women earn a
fair wage so they can help to support their families. We feel that
as we help artisan groups sell their handcrafts and weavings the
dollars brought into communities has a ripple effect in the whole
community. Education helps the entire community whether it is the
young children finally able to go to school or young adults
returning to school to learn a skill or get a university degree.
We work with churches through our sponsorship program to give
educational opportunities to students of all ages -- pre-primary
through University and even technical, vocational schooling. The
sales of the handcrafts also helps the families in the ability to
educate their children, to give better nutrition to their family
because of the fair wages they receive, and business and vocational
skills through technical education for the women artisans.

4. Where are you located? We work with artisan groups and churches
in the Solola department and have recently expanded and we are
beginning to work with poorer groups in the Queche department of

5. What is one experience that you remember the most? When one of
our women artisans started crying as she was trying to thank us for
all the help we give them in earning money to help their families.
The artisans are just so very thankful for all the help Education
And More gives to them and their families. It is very humbling!

6. What is something you learned from volunteering in Guatemala?
People are the same the world over; women are uniquely capable of
understanding each other even through the language barriers and
cultural differences.

7. How could future volunteers get involved? We are looking for
volunteers to help us in a variety of ways: hosting Fair Trade
bazaars at their church, school or home; helping us with our
Facebook pages and other online media, spreading the word about our
work and mission, designing new handcrafts, speaking to schools,
college groups, churches about E&M and our mission. There are many
ways we need volunteers to help!

8. What advice would you give someone wanting to volunteer with your
We need passionate volunteers who are interested in
Fair Trade, education and helping to reduce the poverty in
Guatemala! We need your help and need your skills to grow the
organization! We are expanding into some poorer regions of the
Queche department of Guatemala and need more sales of the handcrafts
to help more women. Once you get involved and eventually go to
and meet our artisans your life will never be the same.
We invite you to contact us for opportunities to volunteer with the

9. Do you have any extra thoughts you'd like to share? Education
And More is very passionate about helping not only the artisans but
their entire families and communities and we have developed programs
to do that. Programs such as: educational opportunities for women,
sewing centers for vocational training for women, educational
opportunities for adults returning to school and children; micro
enterprise help and micro-credit loans, business training,
development and technical assistance, spiritual development through
the Christian Education classes in churches. Our partnership with
local churches gives the sponsored students a community within the
body of Christ so they can grow spiritually as well as in body and
We are a screened member of the Fair Trade Federation and work with
artisan groups to help women and their families. Fair Trade gives
the artisans a fair wage plus many other benefits for them and their


Karen Pickett, Director
Education And More
P.O. Box 201
Burlingame, KS 66413

Blog --

You can also contact Education and More on Facebook.


  1. Thanks for sharing the information about Education and More, and the volunteer opportunities you have!

    I am volunteering with Trama Textiles, an association of weavers up here in Quetzaltenango, and it´s really interesting to hear about activities in Solola. I found my position through EntreMundos´ free volunteer service, maybe you can connect with them - I would have loved to work with you had I seen your entry there.

    Keep up the great and important work.
    -Jennifer Lambert

  2. Jennifer,
    Thanks so much for that information! I will forward it along to Karen!