It started as an initiative by 20 women living in the community surrounding the Guatemala City garbage dump. These women had historically relied on collecting, recycling, reusing, and reselling items scavenged in the garbage dump, in addition to other forms of risky work, to make a living. Upon attending a training hosted by a local university on how to make jewelry out of recycled paper, these women decided they’d like to pursue this craft and sell their products to generate an income. Shortly after, the group opened Creamos as a small business. In 2012, they incorporated a sewing program, doubling the organization’s enrollment.
For several years, they operated under the umbrella of Safe Passage, Creamos’ sister organization and fiscal sponsor, and have been physically located on the Guatemalan campus since its inception. In light of ongoing high interest, enrollment, and community support, Creamos became an independently recognized Guatemalan NGO for their Guatemala-based operations at the end of 2014, while continuing US fundraising under Safe Passage.
In 2020, the Safe Passage Adult Education program was also officially transitioned to the leadership of Creamos, providing one location and one all-encompassing program for adult participants. Today, Creamos utilizes this multi-pronged approach to empower 315 vulnerable adults residing in the community surrounding the garbage dump.
Creamos’ income generating program provides an alternative means of earning money to support their families, so women no longer resort to working in the hazardous conditions of the garbage dump. Affiliates of Creamos earn on average 71% more than they would working in the dump.
24 participants create jewelry products and accessories out of recycled material. These women are given the flexibility to work in their home and are required to study up until middle school.
This program produces accessories, home goods, and clothing– including knitwear and screen printing. Once accepted into the program, women are paid a justified hourly wage for their work and payment is based upon one’s skill level.
Creamos produces a variety of products for various companies utilizing a train-the-trainer modality. This approach ensures these women are the leaders behind every production line. Creamos personnel manage the contact and logistics with the third party.
Creamos’ emotional support program, Creamos Voces, was created as a means to address the emotional and social challenges women in the community surrounding the garbage dump experience. We believe that women need more than just an income to achieve financial freedom.
Comprised of one full-time Social Worker and two part-time Psychologists, these individuals provide the following services:
A six-week course designed to increase an affiliates sense of financial independence and self-efficacy by bolstering knowledge of financial concepts and exposure to formal banking institutions, while encouraging sustainable savings habits. Upon graduating from the program, Creamos staff assist graduates in setting up a bank account and with enrollment in the organization’s internal matched savings program.
Consists of 12 one-on-one sessions with a trained therapist to address presenting challenges.
A closed confidential group offered to survivors of domestic violence. The group strives to increase knowledge regarding the various factors of violence, enrich women’s perception of safety, and to increase knowledge of access to resources.
Daily exercise classes are offered including Zumba, aerobics, pound fit, trauma-sensitive yoga, and soccer. The goal of these programs is to enhance the self-esteem and sense of social support of participants.
In 2020, Adult Education officially became a part of Creamos. This exciting transition ensures that all of our adult participants will be in one location and within one program.
Safe Passage mothers, fathers, and grandparents are now learning to read and write through Creamos’ Adult Education.
Since 2017 the Adult Education program has worked directly with the Guatemalan Ministry of Education and is authorized to provide an accredited education and certified diplomas to adults when they complete sixth grade, ninth grade, and high school. Adult Education offers daily classes in reading, writing, and computer literacy at learning levels customized for each student. Guatemalan teachers and trained volunteers provide academic guidance and develop supportive relationships with students.
Throughout their schooling, Adult Education students work together to gain academic confidence and boost self-esteem. Students are encouraged to prove to themselves and to society that, with hard work and determination, goals can be achieved.