On January 7, 2007 Sister Mary Faye Hellman opened a school for indigenous women in Guatemala. She sensed the need of Mayan women to study. Their options are few and they suffer a lot of discrimination and mistreatment, especially where they work as maids in homes of the middle class. Mary Faye started with 9 women that first year. In 2020 she retired from the project, but it continues under new management and will have 38 women studying there in 2023 in middle and high school. It is called the Centro de Formación Multiple la Preciosisima Sangre.
The system of studies is a Jesuit-founded Instituto Guatemalteco de Educación Radiofonica (IGER), which is a self-study program using textbooks, internet, radio programs, and tutoring. The use of that program at the CFM (Centro de Formacion…) has evolved. The teachers come for longer periods of time and teach the content of the different courses. Language and Math are especially emphasized.
When Sister Mary Faye had graduated several women from the school, Sisters Joyce Kahle and Theresa Walter were inspired to start a house, called Casa Sofia, for the high school graduates who wanted to study at the university level. In September of 2015 they returned to Guatemala (both had been there previously), rented a house in zone 16 and started receiving young women who have been studying in different fields, such as Social Work, Nursing, Education, Theology, Agronomy, and Psychology. There are currently 8 young women living at Casa Sofia and in 2023 there will be 12.
In both the CFM and Casa Sofia the young women live without cost to their families, thanks to the generous support of the Sisters of the Precious Blood and a number of donors. The women, or their families, cover the cost of most of their personal needs. Some of the women at Casa Sofia receive funds from their families to pay for their tuition at private universities. Others are working, saving up for becoming independent women in Guatemala.
During the past 2 years we have been formalizing an association, Asociación para Mujeres la Preciosa Sangre, an umbrella organization that is looking out for the future of these two projects.
— Story by Sister Terry Walter