The SD Peace and Justice Center presented Diane Nesselhuf of Burbank with the Doris Hodge Reconciliation Award at their annual conference, Oct. 7, in Rapid City. Diane was recognized for her work with indigenous people in Guatemala as founder and director of Sharing the Dream in Guatemala.
In 1996 Diane spent a month visiting women's groups in Guatamala. The women she talked with told her they would be able to feed, clothe and educate their children if they had a way to market their crafts. When she returned to South Dakota, Diane established Sharing the Dream in Guatemala to create such a market.
The non-profit corporation Friends of Sharing the Dream is a volunteer-based fair trade organization that reduces poverty through collaborative partnerships with Guatemalans. Working with over 45 artisan groups, Sharing the Dream supports projects in most of the communities where cooperatives are based. Their projects include The Juanita Elder Center in Santiago Atitlan (which provides meals and health care for elders in the community). Most of the elders assisted by this project are Tz'tujil Maya.
Sharing the Dream sells products all over the United States through their network and website. Those who enter the Sharing the Dream store in Vermillion will find books about Guatemala, along with a wide variety of crafts made by people in villages all across that country. They can purchase coffee and coffee beans grown in Guatemala and roasted in Parker.
They can also donate to scholarships so village children can attend school or help support an elder. Sharing the Dream operates a Hostel in Santiago Atitlan, employs two Guatemalan staff people to carry on their work in that country, conducts educational tours of Guatemala so that U.S. citizens can experience life in Guatemala, and employs a doctor to provide medical care needed in a Guatemalan village and orphanage.