Today we’d like to introduce you to Julia Rayberg.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
When I attended UMass Dartmouth, it was in my sophomore year that I traveled to Guatemala with a few students and my professor. That trip changed my life- I was exposed to extreme poverty and living conditions that I knew existed, but I had never been put in front of before – and it truly impacted me in a huge way. Myself and another alum (and Guatemalan native – Mayra Perez) began working towards developing small programs to support the communities we had worked with.
A year later, I arranged for a dozen UMass students to come down to Guatemala and do service work and the brainstorming and local involvement grew. We worked for about a year and a half before we sat down an attorney and registered the organization and called it Worthy Village. At that point, I was 21 years old (Nov of 2014) and in my junior year at UMass Dartmouth.
I continued to build the organization while I was in school full time – working late nights in the library, trying to build connections, market our ideas and work to build what we knew would provide sustainable support and pathways out of poverty for these communities we loved too dearly in Guatemala. When I graduated from UMass in May of 2016, I had to make a decision, do I take a job, or do I continue to build this organization – a tough decision but we continued to work towards our goals and I am so grateful we did.
I now spend about 10 months of the year in Guatemala working out of on-site office, and 2 months in Boston fundraising, speaking, and networking.
As of today, we have provided over 4,000 people with sustainable access to clean drinking water, run social services programs to hundreds, send children to school on scholarships, teach a proper Health & Hygiene Curriculum in schools serving thousands of young children, provide Food Security to schools without, provide economic opportunity to over 60 artisan women living in extreme poverty, build playgrounds from all recycled materials for schools without, and so, so much more.
All of our programs are run by Mayan Indigenous social workers of Guatemala. It’s been such a journey, and it continues to be each day, but I feel more blessed to do this work and work with the incredible team that we have.
Has it been a smooth road?
There are always struggles and nothing worthwhile is ever easy, right!?
It was really tough in the beginning, a few years passed before we really got going, people backed out, we lost a lot of our original team, but I always tried to stay positive. Myself and our co-founder, Mayra Perez, we always stayed positive and kept going, regardless of the battles.
Getting funding was close to impossible early on, trying to get people to believe we were capable (and serious) about what we were trying to do. Sometimes being a young female going into large groups to speak and present on our work and ideas – that was tough in the beginning – to ensure you’re being taken seriously.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Worthy Village – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Worthy Village is a 501c3 non-profit organization with a mission to build pathways out of poverty for women and children in Guatemala by providing economic opportunity, healthcare, and education. To accomplish this mission, we have established partnerships with over 60 skilled women artisans living in the impoverished villages surrounding Lake Atitlan and Totonicapan. Our artisan partners sell their wares to tourists, but profits are not sufficient enough to pay for basic needs.
Despite years of chronic instability and civil strife, Guatemala is a place of fiercely resourceful people who honor traditions, welcome visitors and speak candidly about their lives. Sadly, women are among the most marginalized communities there. Unleashing their economic potential is central to growing their voice, improving their lives, and ultimately, strengthening their communities.
We are guided by the belief that our artisan partners know best what they need to help change their circumstances for the better. Over the years, our team has developed ever-lasting friendships with these women, we have listened to their stories, and gained a better understanding of how we can best impact their lives. Fair wages, access to basic healthcare, and income to support their children’s education are among their highest priorities.
Our online marketplace and wholesale relationships with stores and boutiques allow us to purchase our artisan partners’ products at a fair wage and then resell them. Profits enable us to continue purchasing products, thus providing our artisan partners with a stable source of income. Surplus profits go towards supporting two key initiatives: healthcare and education.
Worthy Village runs multiple different healthcare and educational initiatives year-round in Guatemala. These projects are our core-focus and our passion. Learn more about all of our projects and ways to get involved here.
Worthy Village holds dozens of volunteer trips annually, bringing students and adults from the U.S. into Guatemala to do this work and experience something life-changing. These groups range from high-school & college students to well-established business professionals and retirees. We believe in sharing with others what originally drove us to do Worthy Work, and we love to see our volunteers flourish and grow in ways unimaginable. Learn more about a trip here!
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love that it’s small but still lively. The culture of Bostonians is what I like best – we’re some pretty cool people.
- $1200 + airfare to come down and volunteer in Guatemala for 8 days on Lake Atitlan
- Address: 481 Forest Street
- Website: www.worthyvillage.org
- Phone: 7819874255
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @worthyvillage
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/worthyvillage/