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Local woman is helping empower women in Guatemala

Posted at 12:51 AM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 00:51:41-05

NAPLES, Fla. — A non-profit organization in Naples is working to empower women in Guatemala through the sale of beaded jewelry.

From necklaces to bracelets and other trinkets, the beaded work is not only beautiful, but it’s also full of purpose.

Penny Rambacher is the president of Miracles in Action — the non-profit organization helping rural villages in Guatemala since 2004.

“I was a flight attendant for American, and I flew to Latin American countries, and I saw a lot of poverty on my layovers, and I went back on my own time and discovered children in garbage dumps,” said Rambacher.

Witnessing that poverty, Rambacher and her mom Noreen set off to make a difference through Miracles in Action, helping families in poverty help themselves through education, vocation, and sustainable development projects.

“We are putting in water systems in three villages that had no water and had to walk for miles to go get it every day,” said Rambacher.

All this possible by working alongside other charities in Guatemala and generous donors.

“Also, we built fifty-seven schools in the mountains of Guatemala, so all those children can get an education,” said Rambacher.

Today, the non-profit focuses on empowering Guatemalan women by providing them with a sustainable income through the sale of beaded jewelry.

“I started by buying twenty-bracelets, and I took them back, and I sold them to my co-workers, and everyone loved them,” said Rambacher.

The non-profit currently works with about eighty-five artisan women.

“We pay them their asking price; I don’t make them wait until I’ve sold it," said Rambacher.

Rambacher says empowering these women with skills is the key to permanent success.

“A mother can take care of her children, cook meals, and do work that can bring in an income, which obviously raises their self-esteem and status in the community,” said Rambacher.

Through the program, the women can also get water filters, solar lamps, and nutrition and health workshops.

Rambacher says the jewelry would typically be sold at local farmers' markets and other community activities, but the pandemic has presented challenges.

Rambacher says the loss of these venues has meant the loss of income for the artisans.

“I can tell you right now, I’m really overstocked," said Rambacher.

Earlier this month, Miraculous in Action launched its "Beyond Beads" Shopify site to help sales.

"I’ve got to sell this so I can continue to buy more,” said Rambacher.

Not only does the revenue from jewelry sales go towards providing the women with a sustainable income, but it also helps Miracles in Action fund other projects.

“There have been two-hurricanes that hit Central America and Guatemala; some of the areas where we work have been totally devastated,” said Rambacher.

Rambacher says her mom, Noreen, passed away several years ago from cancer, but her beautiful and vibrant memory lives on through the work Miracles in Action does and the lives they're able to touch.

To learn more about Miracles in Action, click here.

To learn more on Beyond Beads, click here.