The five remarkable Guatemalan women who run our Girls Leadership Institute arrived in Boulder the day after Thanksgiving for a much-anticipated two week working visit. And what a visit it was!
This was the first time that so many of the players on both our U.S. and Guatemalan teams have all been at the same table. To no one’s surprise, we accomplished deeper work than ever on program and evaluation planning for 2015. We also made great progress on determining our strategy for creating a sustainable future for the Leadership Institute programs and for ADIMTU as a continuing grassroots force for change in San Pedro Sacatepéquez.
While in Boulder, the group had a chance to brief some of the leadership of the Global Education Fund on the growing impact of the Girls Leadership Institute and to personally thank them for their continued financial support. Similarly at Boulder’s First Congregational Church whose Board of Missions has also been a generous repeat funder.
Women Work Together hosted several informal gatherings for friends and supporters, all of whom came away inspired. At each get-together the ADIMTU team shared compelling stories, along with pictures and videos that made their work with the girls, their teachers and families, especially mothers, come alive. They’d brought several moving examples of handmade books that the girls had written to illustrate what they'd learned and where they express their dreams for themselves and their country. While those of us who could pitched in to help translate (none of the team are English-speakers), each woman’s passion for and commitment to this work came thru in every encounter.
The team visited several Boulder schools including Horizons K-8, the bilingual program at Casey Middle School, and an advanced Spanish class at Boulder High School. In each case, they were struck by the interactive relationships between students and teachers and how this stimulates, motivates, and involves students in their own learning. They also visited the University of Colorado, toured the Law School and other parts of the campus, and enjoyed the annual performance of The Nutcracker at Macky Auditorium. Many other experiences and adventures rounded out their visit, from hikes in the local foothills and the community experience of Boulder’s annual Parade of Lights to an excursion to the Denver Art Museum.
Worth noting: These five women embody the critical difference that educated women can make in creating a different future for Guatemala. They each grew up in nearby towns and villages. They are each the first women in their families to go to college and have careers, along with (some) being wives and mothers who are now motivating their own children to do the same. They are living models for the girls in our programs, demonstrating that the girls themselves can “be the change.”
Your financial support tips the scales in their favor. Thank you for your continued commitment.
When all was said and done, it was the people of Boulder who made the greatest impression on our partners and they on us. It’s with this in mind that we share with you the following informal comments from one of the team, expressed in her own words and in her own language, for those readers who read Spanish.
Mis Impresiones de Boulder – Comentario Individual
Alejandra Ramos, Agente de Cambio, ADIMTU
Es difícil describir quince días de aprendizaje, conocimientos compartidos y vivencias extraordinarias.
Quedé sorprendida en cuanto al sistema en sí que tienen en Colorado, la autonomía que los caracteriza y les permite crear, generar y aplicar para el mejoramiento de sus mismas ciudades, como el caso de Boulder. De las experiencias que me impactaron fueron las siguientes:
Paisajes Quedé sorprendida de las montañas, la planicie del lugar, las calles amplias, los árboles (que aunque estén secos, los visualizaba en su pleno resplandor y me gustaban), la mañana del primer sábado en nuestra estancia allá en que salimos a caminar para conocer el hermoso lago, me enamoré de esas montañas y senderos y el amanecer lleno de color y viveza. El haber ido a las montañas y conocer una parte del interior o provincia de Boulder, conocer la nieve, disfrutar de ella, ver esquiar a las personas fue muy sorpresivo y llamativo para mí.
Cultura General La capacidad de las personas con las que interactúe, la facilidad que tienen de intercambiar conversaciones de todo ámbito de la vida, salud, recreación, política, educación, cultura, etc. Y esas mismas visiones durante todo el tiempo que estuvimos en Denver a mi en particular me permitieron disfrutar del Ballet de Los Cascanueces, que aunque ya lo había visto en otra oportunidad, esta vez fue con mayor escenografía, mas personajes, la elegancia de la orquesta siendo parte de la función. También el hecho de asistir al Museo de Arte, en donde no solo se aprecia y conoce el arte sino se interactúa con el arte, de donde extrajimos parte del artista que todos llevamos dentro, conocer y saber más sobre los indígenas, me permitió hacer comparaciones incluso con los mismos indígenas de Guatemala.
Educación Me gustó mucho asistir a escuelas del Estado, ver la infraestructura y recursos tecnológicos que tienen, pero principalmente la metodología participativa utilizada por las profesoras, y el nivel tan alto de intervención que los alumnos tienen, la opinión y análisis propio, el grado de confianza entre docente y alumno hasta el grado de confiar en el mismo alumno en que revisara su test de evaluación y tener el concepto de que no es necesario estresar al alumno pensando en un examen, para que éste aprenda sino que en la misma evaluación de contenido puede ser el momento para que aprenda. Ese pensamiento solo lo tienen los grandes educadores y los que en realidad han dejado atrás las clases tradicionales.
Presentaciones de Proyectos Cada vez que conocía a nuevos donantes pensaba: ¿Qué hacemos para recibir tantos beneficios de estas personas que tanto bien le han y nos han hecho a la comunidad en San Pedro Sacatepéquez? Y lo que era mejor, al momento de hablarles de los proyectos y cada una de las historias de las chicas, y ver los gestos y semblantes de aprobación y aceptación de los asistentes, me convencía cada vez más sobre los resultados alcanzados por ADIMTU, y a la vez me enorgullecía de mí misma por ser parte de esos resultados, y me permitió darme cuenta que nací y he crecido como lideresa en MTU que también yo he sido un piloto más, pero un piloto que ya está creciendo y debe seguir haciéndolo.
Equidad de Género Observar como realmente llevan a la práctica este tema, fue también interesante, pues al estar tan acostumbradas a un país machista y aún así tratar de ir cambiando generaciones a través de las chicas, el hecho de asistir a cenas por invitaciones especiales a las casas de miembros de la junta de WWT, lo primero que impactaron nuestros ojos es observar la integración que tienen los hombres en los oficios de la casa, especialmente en la cocina, el hecho de que sirvan la mesa y cocinen para su familia. Eso permite que las mujeres tengan las facilidades para un mejor desenvolvimiento académico profesional.
Concepto de dar y no acaparar El dar sin límites en las personas con quienes convivimos y que nos dijeron que era una característica del mismo Boulder, ese espíritu de solidaridad y humanitario y que desde pequeños inculcan eso en los niños de las escuelas o colegios, tal como lo observamos en chicos que recaudan donativos para dárselos a GEF, el solo hecho de que un buen porcentaje de con quienes convivimos forman parte de grupos de beneficencia social.
Profesional Muy contenta y agradecida por haberme hecho una cita con una abogada y profesora de leyes de la facultad de leyes de Wolf en Boulder, haber conocido las instalaciones, los recursos que utilizan, el pensum de estudios de la universidad. Quedé asombrada sobre el avance y la misma especialización que van creando en los alumnos para su formación. Esto me permite abrir las puertas para mi crecimiento intelectual y profesional.
Ah y la infraestructura o arquitectura de las casas, cada una con su particularidad pero con un diseño espectacular, acogedoras, bellas y únicas.
Finalmente estoy agradecida con WWT por la experiencia que me permitieron vivir y disfrutar y que a mis cortos años de edad sin la ayuda de uds hubiese sido difícil. Todas y todos nos trataron como reynas y esa esencia son únicamente uds los miembros y colaboradores de WWT quienes la tienen. Y como siempre decimos: De corazón a corazón muchas GRACIAS.
Cycle 2 of Evaluation Set to Go
Like everyone else, we want to know whether our work is making a measurable difference in the lives of girls, families and communities in San Pedro Sacatepéquez. We also want to learn how we can do a better job of what we’re doing.
In January of this year we launched a systematic evaluation program to gather much-needed data to substantiate (or not) our working hypotheses, measure impacts, and help us improve our programs. The evaluation design and instruments, overseen by WWT Board member and volunteer Dr. RoseMarie Perez-Foster, Senior Research Associate at the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado in Boulder, were developed in collaboration with our ADIMTU partners. The program is built around a pre/post test, control group design and includes collecting demographic data on both the girls and, to some extent, their families.
Combining the schools where Leadership Institute programs are offered and the control schools in which we do not offer these interventions, the evaluation team is collecting data on the better part of 1000 adolescent girls.
RoseMarie trained ADIMTU staff to collect the first cycle of data at the beginning of the school year (January-October in Guatemala). She’s mentored Advin Orozco Fuentes, an ADIMTU intern studying at the nearby national university and now-paid staffer, to manage the data collection, coding and entry. He recently traveled to Guatemala City for training by our consulting statistician, Dr. Meredith Fort. We’re so pleased about how Advin has grown into this job and has become an important member of the onsite evaluation team, a terrific unintended consequence of our work in San Pedro.
Right now the team is crunching cycle 1 data while preparing to administer cycle 2 of the assessment during October. We’re looking forward to sharing improved descriptive stats on the girls with you before the end of the year, followed by a more detailed report on program impacts and outcomes, ideally by February/March 2015.
ADIMTU Staff Attends II Foro Internacional
ADIMTU was honored to be invited and receive the funding necessary to participate in the Second International Forum sponsored by the Kenoli Foundation of Vancouver, B.C. and held in Honduras in September. The purpose of the Forum was to foster the exchange of knowledge, experience and outcomes among the 30 organizations from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua that receive funding from Kenoli. Of the 7 Guatemalan organizations attending, ADIMTU was the only one not yet funded by Kenoli, and was pleased to be introduced as a future partner.
Alejandra Ramos de León, an ADIMTU change agent who has been part of the Girls Leadership Program since its inception, ably represented ADIMTU there. Describing ADIMTU’s mission and programs, Alejandra both presented to the whole group and participated in small-group workshops. She also staffed a table where she had many good one-on-one conversations.
Alejandra reports that people’s response to ADIMTU’s work was very positive, especially among those representing other projects that address Childhood and Youth in Central America. She learned the ins and outs of preparing a successful proposal to Kenoli and what financial and program reporting and evaluation are required. She was especially pleased to report that, thanks to the hard work of their Board, ADIMTU is well-prepared to meet all such requirements for transparency and accountability.
You can count on it. Your generous donations are changing lives. Just ask our girls, their mothers and others in San Pedro Sacatepéquez. They all agree: Educated Girls Change the Future.
As I was leaving Guatemala last February after spending over a month there, I was approached by a man who wanted to share his observations of ADIMTU’s work in the villages of San Pedro Sacatepéquez and especially what he thought about the impact it was having on the adolescent girls in the communities where they work. His opinion was of great interest to me, as he was from that region, had extensive experience working in community development, and had followed ADIMTU’s work over the last several years as it evolved and deepened.
What he said was profound. He had observed significant differences in the attitude and behaviors of girls in communities where ADIMTU is working compared to those of girls in neighboring communities where there is no ADIMTU presence. In communities where ADIMTU was not working, the incidence of early pregnancy among teenage girls was disturbingly high, he said. Girls commonly began bearing children at puberty, lured by the entreaties of local boys to become novios (sweethearts) and live happily ever after. As a result, 15–16 year old girls would often be trailed by several offspring and the course of a life of deprivation and poverty for them and their children would be set. In addition, the incidents of human trafficking were mounting, he reported, as when a shining pick up truck rolls into town and its driver promises a future in which a girl’s dreams would come true. Too often, the girl would climb aboard, never to be seen again.
In contrast, he’d observed that the girls who participated in ADIMTU’s programs had a much stronger sense of self. They knew they could stand on their own and that they had the internal capacity to set their own goals and make positive decisions in their lives that would help them achieve those goals. They knew that others valued them. They wanted to live lives in which they could make a significant contribution to their family, their community, and possibly their country. They were not lured by promises of others – neither prospective novios nor traffickers, to whom they would say, “I don’t need to leave, I have a place right here.” And, he noted, their peers, also program participants, agreed with one another, unknowingly but effectively shifting community norms along with their personal changes.
These differences are profound, and yet, when one examines the experiences and learning the girls acquire over the 3 years of their work with ADIMTU, one can see the reasons why:
In Grade 7 (La Vida de Mi Mamá) they learn first-hand about the hardships their mothers faced, and resolve to continue their education so as to be better prepared to lead a better life, with more opportunity.
In Grade 8 (La Lectura Familiar) they learn to really read, with access to wonderful books that explore lives and worlds outside of their own and that are selected by ADIMTU staff to include examples of inquiry, exploration, goal settling, persistence and success. As they share these books with their families, the girls bring new ideas and experiences into the family discourse, simultaneously opening the thinking and expectations of the whole community, family reading time by family reading time, household by household.
Finally, in Grade 9 (Mi Hermanita) they each take responsibility for a little sister, guiding her to success in school through weekly tutoring sessions while also demonstrating to themselves, their families and community members that they indeed have the power to create permanent change in themselves and in the people around them.
The girls who develop this sense of their own capacities want to grow and achieve their own dreams and they know they have the internal resources to do so. Of course, we can not claim this is true for all girls in ADIMTU programs, as the factors influencing their lives are many, but to hear a local man’s observations of such a general trend is very heartening.
The reports of the overwhelming numbers of young children and teens being detained at our borders as they flee their homes and try to enter the US to find a better life are startling and deeply troubling. These young people must be so very desperate to take on such danger and uncertainty. Surely, it must be because they feel they have no future where they are.
While relatively modest, as ADIMTU’s programs evolve they may well become a significant intervention to these overarching trends. We are conducting a 3-year longitudinal evaluation both to learn if this is so and to help ADIMTU improve programs in the field. We believe this to be true, and it has given strength to our ongoing resolve to help them continue this work.
As ever, each and every financial contribution gives the ADIMTU staff the resources they need to go out each day, armed with books and art supplies and activities which help turn these girls’ faces toward a brighter future. We hope you will find it in your hearts to make a contribution to support their work.
Evaluation Program Underway - Programs Set for Expansion
Our top-notch program and evaluation team of Wendy Baring-Gould and RoseMarie Perez Foster spent several weeks in San Pedro Sacatepéquez during January & February working intensively with the ADIMTU team to prepare for the new school year. During their first week in San Pedro they worked with ADIMTU to refine and pilot our expanded evaluation plan, digging into every detail from student profile categories to data collection plans and protocols. The subsequent week was devoted to curriculum planning, teacher training and implementation preparation.
Utilizing a controlled pre-post experimental design, RoseMarie, a psycho-educational researcher at the Institute for Behavioral Science, University of Colorado, has constructed a longitudinal outcomes study to assess the efficacy of our program. Standardized testing instruments will be used to assess the girls’ literacy skills and psycho-developmental strides. The statistically analyzed impact of ADIMTU’s program will be compared with matched schools in San Marcos that do not receive the intervention. Preliminary results are expected at the beginning of 2015. Significantly, as the National Ministry of Education has learned more about the breadth and depth of ADIMTU’s Leadership Institute programs, they’ve expressed their willingness to and interest in cooperating with WWT and ADIMTU to accomplish this evaluation.
Under RoseMarie’s leadership and her continuing skype consultations, ADIMTU has begun the process of data collection in the thirteen schools where we are providing all of the Leadership Institute programs, aka “the intervention.” ADIMTU’s data manager will soon be collecting data at the 6 control schools as well.
On the program front, Wendy worked with the ADIMTU team to develop a detailed curriculum guide that specifies week-by-week activities for the 3 core programs, La Vida de Mi Mama (My Mother’s Life), La Lectura Familiar (Family Reading Time), and Mi Hermanita (My Little Sister). Each change agent, supported by a university intern, will annotate and critique the curricula as she implements them, with regular group reviews to improve content and delivery. Between field visits, Wendy also supports the ADIMTU team from Boulder via email and skype calls.
On the very practical side, the group revisited their materials needs in light of program expansion, including the need for many more books, art materials and the like. Also in light of growth, they reviewed the practical logistics and related cost increases, such as transportation to the more distant schools and increased computer and cell phone support, and determined that their 2014 operating budget is $80,000.
During this field visit, the team also met with teachers from our 13 schools to prepare for the programs’ incorporation into the school day. The group reviewed the updated curricula and enthusiastically validated its synergy with Guatemala’s national curriculum. They also discussed the evaluation design and offered recommendations, always taken into account as these educators are very important allies on the ground.
And so the work continues. All indications are that 2014 will be a banner year for Leadership Institute programs. Our colleagues at ADIMTU are now reaching nearly 1100 middle school girls, their families and teachers, plus 300 or so 2nd and 3rd grade Little Sisters along with their families and teachers. The multipliers and ripple effects are terrific @ “just” $80,000 annually, which breaks down to a cost of few dollars per beneficiary with a rather high social rate of return on investment.
Your support for Women Work Together aligns you with ADIMTU’s genuine grassroots effort to shift community norms so that girls regularly attend and achieve in school and become community leaders in San Pedro Sacatepéquez, San Marcos, and across Guatemala. ¡Muchas gracias!
PROGRAM WINS NATIONAL RECOGNITION
Guatemalan Ministry of Education Makes It Official
ADIMTU, Women Work Together’s sister organization in San Pedro Sacatepéquez, has been awarded national accreditation from the Guatemalan Ministry of Education for the comprehensive Leadership Institute. They are one of only twelve organizations certified to deliver educational programming in the schools during the school day. This followed a year-long program review that included field visits, written applications and in-depth workshops.
The program’s certification carries significant weight and prestige and will be an important asset in our efforts to attract more sustainable and in-country funding. It also places ADIMTU staff in the company of other similarly innovative organizations, to learn from them, build local capacity and bring more direct benefit to all parties.
Girls' premature romances and ensuing pregnancies are frequently cited as a reason why girls leave school. Fathers in particular have been very forthright in asking for ADIMTU's help in addressing this problem. While eager to respond, the staff is not trained in this very specialized field. Through the Education Ministry's accreditation process, ADIMTU connected with the Fundación Juan Bautista Guitiérrez, a long-established and highly-regarded Guatemalan foundation dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable communities, including programs for teens on reproductive health. FJBG agreed to partner with ADIMTU and spent most of November working with students in 10 of ADIMTU's middle school sites during the school vacation.
Girls Leadership Institute Reorganizes to Maximize Impact
All of our programs for girls and their mothers, fathers, teachers, and community leaders are now under the umbrella of a newly configured Leadership Institute. This brings together our girl-centered, 10-month in-school programs with the workshops, community conversations and trainings for adults. ADIMTU will work in each rural community more frequently, carrying the message that Educated Girls Can Change the Future. Look for an expanded description of the Leadership Institute on our updated website, www.womenworktogether.org.
Will You Stick With Us?
We believe we're establishing a sufficient track record to qualify for larger scale grants. During 2014 and 2015 we will be working to secure more sustainable funding for ADIMTU, perhaps as a demonstration site for other Guatemalan communities and schools.
However, this will take time, during which we will still need to raise $120,000 annually to support the ongoing work which will impact over 800+ girls and their families in San Pedro.
This breaks down to just $150 per-girl-per-year, and barely $75 per person once you factor in affected mothers, fathers, teachers, and community leaders.
And so we ask you to please stick with us and continue or even increase your support so we and all these wonderful girls don't lose all our hard-won gains.
Your investments so far have already paid off. These young teen girls have a greater sense of themselves than ever before. They love to read. They look you in the eye. They express their own ideas with confidence. And they speak up in public as never before. The girls are seeing themselves as important people...contributors to their families, active members of their communities, and valued participants in society.
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http://www.womenworktogether.org/ (We're working on a major site revision now, launching soon.)