Bracelet sales support high school for Guatemalan girl

Kamiak senior promotes sustainability, social justice through service project
By Nicholas Johnson | Apr 26, 2017
Courtesy of: Claire McCallick Kamiak students sport Yuda Bands recently.

Kamiak senior Erin Dahl is halfway to her goal of selling 400 Guatemalan-made bracelets to raise money for a Guatemalan girl to attend high school for four years.

“So far, we have sold about 200 bands,” Dahl said. “Our goal is to sell 400, because that’s how much our sponsored student needs to pay for her entire high-school career through her senior year.”

Through the National Honor Society, Dahl and other students are sponsoring an eighth-grade girl named Flor who lives in Xesuj, Guatemala.

“Flor wants to be a veterinarian,” Dahl said. “She really loves school.”

On Friday, April 21, Dahl and other Kamiak students got a chance to have a Skype conversation with Flor, meeting her for the first time.

“We got to meet her and ask her questions,” Dahl said.

Dahl said she was inspired to take on the fundraising project after traveling to Guatemala last summer.

“I was compelled to do this project after a service trip to Guatemala last summer where I witnessed extreme poverty, to the extent that people lived in the garbage dump because they had a lack of access to education and better jobs that follow with more knowledge,” she said.

“I also lived with a family in a small village, and was a part of a youth empowerment leadership team that helped to build a school in a rural Mayan village.”

In November, Dahl attended a career development conference where she saw a presentation on Yuda Bands, an effort to fight poverty by selling handmade, fair trade bracelets to raise money for educational opportunities for Guatemalan youth.

“The name comes from the word ayuda, which in Spanish means to help,” Dahl said. “When you buy a Yuda Band, you’re helping someone.”

The bracelets cost $7 and come in a variety of styles, featuring animals like elephants and turtles. Unlike the U.S., Guatemalan families must pay for high school.

“Each band that we sell not only helps pay for our sponsored student, but it’s also a fair trade bracelet, so workers are paid a fair living wage,” Dahl said. “It promotes sustainability and social justice, which I’m really compelled to be a part of.”

The project ends Friday, April 28. Bands can be purchased in the Kamiak bookkeeping office, which is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dahl said she is also accepting monetary donations through the first week in May.

“We’re also trying to raise money to cover the fee that the school will charge on our sales,” she said, noting that the fee is 3.95 percent.

The program doesn’t just pay for Flor’s high-school career, it prompts her to pay the generosity forward.

“Through that program, the students get a mentor and they pay it forward in their communities through service projects of their own,” Dahl said.

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