I was attracted to PADF because of the range of activities, projects, and programs that we implement. Through the various programs I work with, we are making important social changes in various areas and with different populations. I identify with the mission of PADF and enjoy contributing to the humanitarian work that improves conditions in the present and future.
One of the most memorable moments I have while at PADF was giving in-kind donations to women entrepreneurs in Villa Nueva, Guatemala. For several months, we trained the women in marketing, finance, and administrative skills. As operations coordinator, I purchased items such as furniture and raw material to help these women improve their local businesses. All of the women in the program were very excited and grateful.
When it comes to moving stories, I have several. These include empowering youth so they can better understand their democratic rights. I got to know each of their stories, their places of origin, their dreams, and the commitment they have not only to themselves, but also to their country. In addition, visiting ground zero after the eruption of the Volcán de Fuego was very moving. I participated in disaster management trainings and met many brave women who saved other women and children in their communities. Lastly, one of the biggest programs we implement in Guatemala is the Trafficking in Persons program. Visiting shelters for victims of human trafficking and seeing the direct effect our programming has on their livelihoods gives me great satisfaction and pride for the work I do at PADF.
The greatest challenge is definitely the use of technology and communications. Although it is a challenge, it provides great learning opportunities. We had to adapt our programming in many ways due to the pandemic. By using technology, we were able to reach more people from distant communities, which we couldn’t always do face-to-face due to costs. At PADF, we aim to be as inclusive as possible by involving various people, and we were able to do just that through virtual trainings. Things that seem basic like using Zoom and Google are new ventures and skillsets for others that may not even have basic cellphone services. These experiences are a great lesson for those of us who have the luxury of accessibility. It made me think of how we can facilitate online learning, while being more fair and empathetic as a person and an employee at the same time.
To learn more about the projects Erik works on, visit our Guatemala page and our Trafficking in Persons page.