North American Coordinator of Grupo Cajola
“Why have I been traveling to Cajola for two weeks every month for the past fifteen years? It is my tiny way to right the terrible wrong that we the United States committed by overthrowing a democratically elected president of Guatemala, bringing to a violent end the unique 10 years of democratic spring, and setting the stage for the brutal 36 years civil war that followed. By giving my time, energy, and experience to Grupo Cajola we are taking small steady steps to achieving educational and economic development to one day bring a halt to forced migration.”
Caryn Maxim has been actively involved with the Guatemalan community of Morristown New Jersey since 2000. She has her MBA in Finance from University of Michigan (1979) and spent 15 years in various management positions for two major multinational firms (Clorox and Campbell Soup). She left her corporate career in 1993 to start a travel business, Maxim Tours, which plans independent customize travel to Latin America and Africa. In 1999 she co-founded Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center, in Morristown NJ. The center counsels immigrants on their rights and responsibilities, advocates changing the immigration laws, and works to improve relations between the immigrant and non-immigrant communities. Caryn left Wind of the Spirit in 2002 but continued to work with the Guatemalans she had met in Wind of the Spirit. This involved providing space for their meetings, helping them learn to use computers and the internet, and then broadened into studying history, economics, and politics. Several visits to their families in their home town of Cajolá in Quetzaltenango lead to Caryn leaving Maxim Tours in 2005 to volunteer fulltime for Grupo Cajolá in Morristown (USA) as well as in Cajolá (Guatemala). In Morristown her work involves immigration advocacy, education, and fund raising. In Guatemala she assists Grupo Cajolá in their community development work and is coaching three groups as they begin cooperative businesses, an egg farm, a textile/fair trade business, and a carpentry factory. She divides her time between Cajolá, Guatemala and Morristown.