Supporting indigenous mentors to reach more girls

by Population Council
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Supporting indigenous mentors to reach more girls
Supporting indigenous mentors to reach more girls
Supporting indigenous mentors to reach more girls
Supporting indigenous mentors to reach more girls
Supporting indigenous mentors to reach more girls
Supporting indigenous mentors to reach more girls
Supporting indigenous mentors to reach more girls
Supporting indigenous mentors to reach more girls
Supporting indigenous mentors to reach more girls
Supporting indigenous mentors to reach more girls
Supporting indigenous mentors to reach more girls
Supporting indigenous mentors to reach more girls
Supporting indigenous mentors to reach more girls
Supporting indigenous mentors to reach more girls
Supporting indigenous mentors to reach more girls
Supporting indigenous mentors to reach more girls
Supporting indigenous mentors to reach more girls
Supporting indigenous mentors to reach more girls
Supporting indigenous mentors to reach more girls

Hello dear donors and friends,

Through our journey in this community, we’ve told you before about the mentors; a group of indigenous leaders who are constantly learning and teaching young girls in their communities about key topics that encourage them to fight for their rights and reach their dreams. A key component of our program is the training for Abriendo Oportunidades mentors. In this occasion, we would like to tell you more about these.

Every three months, we provide them a training space (during the covid-19 pandemic we have combined them virtually and in presential), where they can learn topics such as women’s, child, financial education, gender, sexual and reproductive rights, among others. The goal? To allow mentors to learn new skills, strengthen their knowledge, and share and dialogue between them to encourage their critical thinking.

Some months ago, 19 mentors from Chisec (Alta Verapaz) and Momostenango (Totonicapán) spent a week at Ciudad de Guatemala where they had the chance to keep learning about human rights, sexual and reproductive health, and bodily autonomy. During this week, we had the privilege of having representatives of national organizations and institutions, such as the Procuraduría de los Derechos Humanos, WINSG Guatemala, and Guatemala Menstruante. Once again, thank you!

With the aim of strengthening their right to recreation, which is poorly abandoned by the State, we visited the La Aurora Zoo, where the mentors had the chance to interact between them, and above all… to have fun!

We are very happy with this training result because the mentors got to tell their experiences and learn about other’s. They had the chance to learn how these key topics have an impact in their physical, emotional, and social environment. We are certain that all these learning will help them to transmit their knowledge to the girls and adolescent women of their rural communities.

As always, we would like to thank this beautiful community for your continued support. Each donation has been very useful for us to keep providing indigenous women key tools so they can reach their goals.

Best regards,

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Dear GlobalGiving community,

Like some of you might already know, through the continuous support of the Population Council, plenty of young indigenous women in Guatemala have been able to empower themselves by the implementatation of Abriendo Oportunidades (AO) program.

Through the past years, we’ve been working with two main networks: REDMI Aq’ab’al and Na’leb’ak. REDMI is leaded by K’iche and Kaqchikel indigenous woman in the western highlands of Guatemala. The support of the GlobalGiving community has given them the opportunity to continuously educate and empower themselves through the implementation of Abriendo Oportunidades program. The mentors, who are the women that lead REDMI Aq’ab’al network, have been teaching young girls and adolescents subjects that have a huge impact in their lives, such as gender violence, human rights, gender equality, comprehensive sex education, and empowerment in schools, among others. Besides that, these brave women have implemented radio programs to have a bigger impact in their communities.

REDMI constantly create safe spaces for young indigenous girls and adolescents, who are constantly struggling to find their own voice in their communities and in the country. One of the main goals of the 2022 is to expand the network to reach more young indigenous girls and adolescents. They are also looking for professional psychological help to improve the quality of the girls’ lives. We are completely sure that they are going to be able to reach their necessities with your support.

The Na’leb’ak network is in northern Guatemala and is leaded by Q’eqchi women. Besides the periodic facilitation of safe spaces that empower young indigenous girls and adolescents, such as the ones of the REDMI network, they are pursuing their dream of reaching food sovereignty through Casa Productiva. This project promotes alternative solutions to the eminent malnutrition in their communities by creating agroecological systems that mitigate climate change, increase economical autonomy among women, and advocate for local food sovereignty.

The Casa Productiva project involves a series of activities, leaded by the Na’leb’ak mentors. At the moment, they are taking care of more than 650 hens, which produce around 16,500 eggs per month, and are also constantly planting local products, such as bananas, pineapples, malanga, yuca, and achiote. Parallelly, they are devising a nursery seeds for the AO program and for the sell to the community level, which will eventually strengthen their economic autonomy.

Given that the Casa Productiva project focuses on the regeneration of the social, economic, and ecological tissue, it is a key foundation for the empowerment of indigenous girls and adolescents across their communities. It encourages their creativity and offers them skills for a lifetime. Additionally, this effort has been recognized by the Vice Presidency of Guatemala through the Agenda de Trabajo Anual del Gabinete Especifico de Desarrollo Económico -GABECO. We strongly believe that Casa Productiva will set a precedent for the empowerment and autonomy of indigenous women.

We will continue to be there for girls, as we know we count on you to keep supporting the invaluable work of the mentors, who became first-line responders for young girls and adolescents.

We deeply appreciate your support!

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AO girls celebrating October 11th!
AO girls celebrating October 11th!

The pandemic brought unprecedented changes to the lives of indigenous girls, who were already struggling to pursue their life plans and continue with their education. Since schools closed in March 2020, indigenous girls have not been to classrooms and are facing the effects of prolonged confinement, disconnected from their teachers and friends. These effects also include high connectivity costs, lack of regular and free access to internet, and lack of access to vocational training alternatives offered in their communities. Additionally, indigenous communities report the lowest vaccination rates due to the lack of consistent information offered by the Ministry of Health and neglect from the government to prioritize indigenous communities as highlighted by the Pan-American Health OrganizationLeft at home without access to consistent learning opportunities, adolescent girls are dropping out of school as early as age 10. 

The Abriendo Oportunidades program (AO) currently serves 20 indigenous communities, reaching 800 girls ages 10-17 with tutoring and recreational activities. Through 2021, the AO program deployed teams of mentors who consistently support girls with homework, and organized in-person meetings in open spaces with COVID protection protocols. For the rest of the year, the team of female indigenous mentors will continue to offer girls face masks, information on how to be prevent exposure to the coronavirus, and the traditional curricular content on comprehensive sexuality education. 

To keep girls engaged with learning, and reach those girls that have dropped out of school, mentors continue to offer training on food security, teaching girls the basics of agriculture with perspectives informed by the local indigenous worldviews. We are also partnering with local education authorities to find enrollment pathways for girls and families that have decided not to come back in 2022.

Finally, we share with you a couple of photos of the celebration for the International Day of the Girl, honoring the effort and aspirations from all AO girls in Guatemala. 

We will continue to be there for girls, as we know we count on you to keep supporting the invaluable work of the mentors, who became first-line responders for adolescent girls as the pandemic unfolds. 

Happy Holidays from the Abriendo Oportunidades Team!

AO girls celebrating October 11th!
AO girls celebrating October 11th!
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AO mentor teaching girls how to plant crops safely
AO mentor teaching girls how to plant crops safely

As the COVID-19 pandemic evolved, the Population Council was quick to act and conducted interviews with key informants to assess the impact of the pandemic in the lives of indigenous communities where the Abriendo Oportunidades program works. We identified that, by the end of July 2020, only 26% of informants (n=108) had received any form of social assistance, 61% faced loos of livelihoods and only 37% had access to health services. It is July 2021 and less than 2% of the Guatemalan population has been vaccinated. Access to vaccines is highly concentrated in cities and urban areas, perpetuating dynamics of exclusion against indigenous communities. 

To respond to the COVID crisis, with the generous support from the GlobalGiving community and other partners, Abriendo Oportunidades mentors mobilized to create a radio program for indigenous girls that addresses questions about COVID-19, the importance of not giving up on life plans and staying enrolled in school. The radio program is an effective strategy to respond to school closures and invites girls to learn about land, local crops, intergenerational indigenous farming knowledge, and food sovereignty. 

The Abriendo Oportunidades program is currently reaching close to 700 indigenous girls ages 8 to 19 in the municipalities of Momostenango and Chisec, with teams of 20 mentors actively conducting households visits to ensure that girls listen to the radio program. Mentors also deliver tutoring to AO girls, helping them to cope with school closures and doubts related to COVID-19. 

Additionally, in Chisec, AO mentors sustain poultry activities, producing close to 22,000 eggs per month in Casa Productiva! These eggs are commercialized to AO communities, and donations have been made to households in need. 

In the middle of uncertainty, we are also focusing our efforts in making sure girls have access to learning activities that are safe, fun and informative! Since April, each AO girls has received a basic kit to set up a vegetable and nutritious plant garden in their households. 

We will keep you posted on more innovative ideas to support indigenous girls cope with COVID-19 in the months to come. 

Thank you for being part of the Abriendo Oportunidades efforts!

Check out the AO gardening guides for girls!
Check out the AO gardening guides for girls!
Check out the AO gardening guides for girls!
Check out the AO gardening guides for girls!
AO mentor feeding the chickens in Casa Productiva
AO mentor feeding the chickens in Casa Productiva

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Mentor in charge of poultry quality oversight
Mentor in charge of poultry quality oversight

We hope all Abriendo friends are healthy and keeping safe!

Your support kept us going through this pandemic. Every donation we received in 2020 was put to the best use possible in the region of Chisec, Alta Verapaz. The last quarter of the year was challenging for Q’eqchi’ families in Guatemala. The effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic were exacerbated by the impact of the hurricanes Eta and Iota. But resilience is the Abriendo DNA. 

Abriendo mentors are gradually returning to organize and work with girls in their communities. With your support, a team of 12 q’eqchi’ mentors are getting trained to support 500 girls (ages 10 to 19) with plans to stay enrolled in school. The goal is to identify and work towards eliminating barriers that might be keeping girls from coming back to school. Mentors will mobilize support from community leaders, parents and teachers to deliver tutoring to girls. Mentors will implement hybrid modalities that include radio outreach, in-person recreational activities for girls, following the COVID-19 preventive measures, and household visits to girls and mothers. 

The team of mentors are also working on Casa Productiva! Food sovereignty is a pillar of our work. Mindful of the importance that indigenous worldviews bring to nutrition, and the connections needed with local schools to improve food security through the meals provided to children every day, our free-range chickens are becoming part of the social transformation needed to break the cycle of malnutrition that disproportionately affect indigenous girls. Today, Casa Productiva is home to 1,700 chickens and is producing an average of 650 eggs every day!

Plans are underway to install solar energy, constructing additional barns and building innovative water systems to improve the quality of egg production. Our goal with Casa Productiva is to demonstrate that young indigenous women have the capacity to manage large-scale farms, aligned with their personal plans and worldviews. 

Thank you for being part of this journey!

 

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Organization Information

Population Council

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Angel del Valle
Guatemala City, Guatemala
$91,300 raised of $120,000 goal
 
1,431 donations
$28,700 to go
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