Institute for Overcoming Urban Misery (ISMU)

ISMU is a network of 17 community organizations and NGOs based in Guatemala City that was founded in 1992. ISMU's mission is to help strengthen grassroots organizations and promote community participation so that marginalized urban communities can negotiate and mobilize collectively to get their needs met and their rights recognized. ISMU prioritizes gender equity in all of its work.
Jul 7, 2009

July 2009 Update

ISMU’s latest update is about the 102 elementary and secondary school students (the other students supported by this project are at the tertiary or pre-primary level) who were identified by ISMU members as at risk for dropping out of school because of their extreme poverty and/or difficult family situations.

ISMU staff and community leaders together conducted a needs assessment with each student and their family. They used this to design an intervention for each student, including health-related, material and emotional support services as needed. In order to qualify for the program, the students and their parents/guardians are required to participate in monthly workshops at the ISMU office. Transportation costs are covered by ISMU. Topics so far have included: self-esteem and self-care, team-building exercises, reproductive health and the prevention of infectious diseases, career planning and how to improve study habits. ISMU staff met regularly with the parents/guardians and with the teachers to review their quarterly grade and identify areas where the students need further support. Of the 102 participants, over 90 are expected to be promoted to the next grade in December.

Mar 5, 2009

March 2009 Update

Last year, ISMU initiated a partnership with the Entrepreneurial Youth Organization, a well regarded non-profit that promotes early business education for teenagers. 15 ISMU-supported students from the Verbena community were selected to participate in their youth development program, which entailed 6 months of training and mentorship in small business operations.

The area of La Verbena is made up of approximately 30,000 people living on steep hillsides, many of which lack basic services such as paved roads and electricity. Young people here are at risk for gang involvement and face major barriers to getting an education. For the students selected, this was an incredible opportunity for these students to further their educational and career goals and gain exposure to possible career paths after graduating. ISMU –with your valuable support—also continues to offer financial assistance for school registration fees and supplies, and holds monthly meeting with the students and their parents or guardians to ensure academic success.

Dec 9, 2008

December 2008 Update

On account of heavy rain, two major mudslides recently occurred in the municipality of Zacapa, Guatemala, devastating the population. The first occurred on July 22nd, killing 12 people, wounding 5, destroying 1 bridge, and leaving 15 people living in extreme risk. The second mudslide, on July 24th, destroyed 175 homes and left 287 people living at risk. The municipality was officially declared in a state of emergency after the second mudslide.

Many children lost parents in these mudslides. ISMU reacted quickly to ensure that the children would be able to continue their education, especially for those in primary education as well as having access to basic needs such as food, clothing and housing.

In the last 6 months, ISMU has been able to support 24 children affected by these mudslides to continue their primary education covering school fees, school supplies and uniforms as well as to ensure their siblings and one parent to have their meals at the table every day.