A couple of months ago I received a call from a Guatemalan living abroad. Like all of us, she was moved and horrified by the events that led to the death of 43 adolescent girls who were under the custody of the state of Guatemalan. A fatal fire revealed the many problems of a failed system of protection. She wanted to know more about Abriendo Oportunidades, specifically, about how we can prevent tragedies like this by investing in prevention, protection mechanisms, and life skills. Her plan was to run for girls.
That was definitely a first one for us. Her plan was to raise awareness by dedicating a run for the cause of girls. She talked others into joining her. The "I Run for Girls" raised $1733 in less than a month. Moreover, this campaign opened up new opportunities to partner with runners in Guatemala and abroad. Our plan: to organize a short run in Chisec for our end of year campaign.
Why? Girls love to exercise. We are working with a mayor who is keen on diversifying activities to attract tourism to the region. The best way to understand our program is to see it and listen directly from girls and mentors.
So...stay tuned for this exciting activity. We are grateful for all the runners who now want to engage with Abriendo, learn about the life of girls and the challenges they face every day to simply exercise their basic rights.
Thank you Mariana and all the runners and friends for running and expanding the discussion and awareness regarding girls' lives.
We recently received two very good friends of Abriendo Oportunidades. They have generously supported key field activities for the past four years but had never visited Guatemala. Mentors love meeting people who support their work and believe in girls, so they were thrilled to share updates and plans for the future. The visit included an unexpected hike to corn fields and orchards that reminded us of the hard work Q'eqchi' families do every day to sustain their families.
Part of the visit included learning about the vegetable and herb gardens girls have been raising at home. Over 100 girls have successfully planted a variety of products that now help diversify their families' diet and also provide some income. We learned about saving for school materials, buying more seeds, and expanding gardens. Mothers, grandmothers, and older sisters also shared stories about how girls are becoming more and more knowledgeable about traditional plants.
Mentors believe that growing vegetable gardens help girls reconnect with local traditions and value land, water, and other natural resources. We believe that it is never too early to try your hand at gardening.
If you have been a friend and supporter of Abriendo Oportunidades for a while, you may remember that mentors in Chisec secured an agreement with the mayor of that municipality. The agreement included City Hall donating a copier for the mentors new office, which is in a municipal building where they can work rent-free. The copier finally made it to Chisec. It will make everyone's work much easier and less expensive!
The Population Council's team and a group of education specialists also wrapped up the preparation of the integrated textbook for our program that focuses on providing access to secondary education. Abriendo participants in some communities have the option of completing middle school through our Flexible Modalities program. This program requires certification by the Ministry of Education. Our partnership with the MoE includes our contribution to the program through the preparation of the core textbook. This month we are celebrating our new books too!
Please remember that all donations until Christmas will be doubled!
Mentors in Chisec have been working with girls and their families to develop vegetable and herb gardens. This is part of their initiative to work with girls to generate some income, while expanding families' food choices. The strategy also includes bringing back traditional plants that are now scarce due to the rapid landuse change in the region. As in other aspects of Abriendo, mentors' play a key role in ensuring that girls and their families get the support necessary to succeed.
Ongoing donations through Global Giving have helped the Council provide continous support to the Chisec mentors network. Lessons learned from this experience will allow us to frame upcoming community activities in the department of Sololá, where another group of highly motivated and committed mentors are just beginning girl groups in 20 communities.
Thank you once more for your committment to their excellent work.
We are thrilled to report a series of successful activities in Chisec. Mentors in Chisec completed their training in December 2015. A group of them decided to continue working on a voluntary basis to expand the girl clubs to new communities. Their efforts to engage the newly elect mayor of Chisec, Selvin Reyes, have resulted in the first ever municipal plan that includes specific budget lines and activities to support girls and adolescents. Mayor Reyes committed to fund 35% of the annual budget for mentors' activities. He also provided mentors with an office free of rent where they have now established their headquarters. He also invited Abriendo mentors to be part of the Municipal Development Council. These councils are usually male-dominated, so mentors have taken on the important role of making women's contribution to development plans more relevant.
As always, all funds raised through Global Giving go directly to field activities. Your generous contributions have allowed us to continue matching mentors' efforts. We are very grateful for your committment to the sustainability of these groups of brave young women.
On the western side of the country, the AO mentor network in Totonicapán continue using Global Giving donations to produce beautiful bracelets for sale in the U.S. Mentors in Totonicapán invest the majority of the funds generated from bracelets to expand activities with girls and their mothers.
Mentors across Guatemala continue combining their passion for girls rights with locally generated evidence. This makes them unique contributors to improving the lives of girls and adolescent girls in rural communities. Thank you for being part of this effort.
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