Francesca Kennedy Helps the Guatemalan Water Crisis Through her Sandals
Meet Francesca Kennedy, the founder of Ix Style, a socially conscious fashion company that donates 15% of their profits to provide clean drinking water to children in Guatemala where her family is originally from.
As their website explains, “Ix” is the Mayan word for water, one of the most essential, magical, and transformative substances in the world.
Many have called Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan the eighth wonder of the world. Great artists and intellectuals from Simone de Beauvoir to Ingrid Bergman to Pablo Neruda all lived and created by the shores of the pristine lake. For Francesca;s family, the lake holds special significance. It is where her grandfather, Colonel Arthur Kennedy II, lived for many years. It’s where her family celebrated countless birthdays and holidays. It’s where some of her happiest memories were made.
“When I returned to the lake in 2010, the lake had become completely overrun with blue green algae. The water looked like sewage. NASA called it one of the worst natural disasters of our lifetime, because you could see the pollution from space. I will never forget the image of young girls collecting the contaminated water to drink, to cook, to clean. Until that point, I had always taken clean drinking water for granted.
It was then I learned that diseases from unsafe water kill more people each year than any form of violence, including war. That 2 out of 3 children in Guatemala will go to bed hungry each night. That many Guatemalan children are unable to attend school because they must walk miles each day in order to collect drinking water for their families.It had been my dream since childhood to do something to give back to Guatemala. I knew that I had to act,” she says.
Ix donates 15% of their profits from every single purchase made to Asociacion Puente, which is Spanish for “Bridge Association.” Asociacion Puente, founded by the former First Lady of Guatemala, Wendy Berger, works throughout Guatemala to reduce extreme poverty and malnutrition.
“From our artisans to the indigenous women of Asociacion Puente, our mission is to empower women through education, commerce, and production,” explains Francesca. “We choose to invest in women, because we know that investing in women is the most effective way to invest in a community. According to the WHO, women invest 90% of earned income into their communities and families, compare with 30% for men.
These women spend their money on nutrition, medicine, and housing – using the knowledge and money they have earned to give their children a better life.With safe and convenient access to water, children no longer have to walk hours each day to retrieve water for their families, and can return to school instead. Education and commerce are the most effective ways to break the cycle of poverty. By investing in women, we hope to invest in a new generation and a bright future for Guatemala.”