Provide Life Skills for 4000 Rural Mayan Girls

by Population Council
Abriendo secondary education group
Abriendo secondary education group

We want to begin 2016 by thanking everyone who has generously contributed to Abriendo Oportunidades.  The donations have increased and we are happy to report that these funds will allow us to 

-  Continue supporting the work in Chisec:   Mentors and girls graduated after two years of committed work and dedication.  Mentors were invited by the newly elected mayor of Chisec to continue working with girls in the municipality. He committed about $12,000 to support their anual work plan.  Global Giving donations will help add to the pool of resources that we hope will come to the necessary $27,000 to keep activities in 21 communities.  We are very proud of Chisec mentors, who have developed a comprehensive plan to remain active change makers in their communities. Their goals include encouraging girls to stay or return to school, erradicate child marriage, and increase women's access to reproductive health information annd services.

-  Cover logistical costs necessary to increase the presence of our staff and key partners in the most distant communities in Petén:   Abriendo is the only program currently reaching girls in 99 communities in Southern Petén.  Mentors travel up to 3 hours to reach communities, traveling through mud, rain, dust and heat. Some communities have requested assistance in reducing violence against women and girls.  This means organizing trips with key partners such as the Office for the Defense of Indigenous Women and members of the Reproductive Health Observatory.  All of these efforts fit into our strategy to erradicate child marriage. Petén is teaching us much about the importance of secondary education as a means not only to improve adolescent girls' opportunities, but as a safe space where they can make decisions regarding their life.

- Build a solid sustainability strategy to help graduate mentors continue developing the Abriendo model in new communities.

Thank you again for believing in Abriendo and supporting mentors, girls, and communities in rural Guatemala.

Young participant speaking in public.
Young participant speaking in public.

As the International day of the Girl Child, is taken place today, we are happy to share with you this weekends experience during our first Soccer "Abriendo" Tournament in San Luis, Petén. More than 120 girls and boys had the chance to experience an interschool championship, which gather them together in an event where girls had a very important participation, something that is not very common when it comes to soccer.


This event was made possible through joint efforts between mentors, community leaders, and school teachers who worked together to make it possible. In Abriendo, we believe that specific joint efforts must be made by different and relevant members of society, to compromise with the big challenges that gir's vulnerability still have in our country and the world. We feel happy to show proof that with great efforts, results can be possible.



sharing our experiences
sharing our experiences

In AO we believe effective communication skills and value oriented relationships are key towards achieving impact in any kind of social project. 


The work that Abriendo mentors do is very complicated work that needs clear motivations and an integrated group of people that share the same view.


That is why we try to get the teams together to share our experiences, our feelingstowards work, and learn together through different kinds of activities that bring us closer together. These experiences teach us how to develop problem solving skills,and help us find integrated solutions for the problems that affect girls’ vulnerability in the communities where we work. 


On the last week of September the Peten team met for a workshop. 29 mentors in charge of 100 communities,  traveled 360 km. to Guatemala City, where they metwith staff from headquarters, led by Ceci Garcés, our Education and Curriculum Specialist. We also had some very important guests: AO most experienced mentors, who currently lead research efforts in the Western Highlands, shared their experiences and motivations, and encouraged mentors to work hard to bring Abriendo to more girls across Guatemala.


We feel very happy to share these great news and some pictures from the workshop.  

Eli sharing with the rest of the group.
Eli sharing with the rest of the group.
mentors learn together in Peten
mentors learn together in Peten

For the past year, the Population Council in Guatemala has worked in partnership with the alliance of municipalities of southern Peten to implement Abriendo Oportunidades in San Luis, Dolores, and Poptun.  Last week, mentors from 99 communities worked with Council staff to prepare the second quarter of the curriculum. 

Peten has presented new challenges to Abriendo Oportunidades, including the high rates of sexual violence reported by girls and adolescents.  We are currently working with local partners to identify solutions and determine the best paths to ensure that girls and women have access to justice.  

These past months have also been exciting for our partners from the Learning Circle.  Organizations in Izabal, Alta Verapaz, Solola, Quiche, Jalapa, and Chimaltenango are moving forward with their plans, leading groups, and ensuring that more girls have access to safe spaces and the Abriendo model. 

We are also pleased to share with you that our friends from Sheva ( are helping us share the good news about Abriendo Oportunidades and the impact it has on girls and adolescents in Guatemala.  Thank you Sheva!

Peten mentors and monitors
Peten mentors and monitors
Distributing materials for 99 groups
Distributing materials for 99 groups
Chisec mentors and senior staff
Chisec mentors and senior staff

Abriendo Oportunidades' scale-up strategy has taken the team and a set of new mentors and monitors to Peten, in northern Guatemala.  As of January 2015, 100 new communities were mapped and all girls ages 8-18 included in our Girl Roster.  A new class of mentors met for a week to begin learning the basic elements of the curriculum. The majority of this group is Maya Q'eqchi' and will work in communities of three municipalities: Dolores, San Luis and Poptun. Some communities are located along the border with Belize, others nearby protected areas.  Our partners in Peten include government and non-governmental organizations that will collaborate in different aspects of the program, from expanding the curriculum to add a stronger environmental component, to helping us with complex logistics such as mapping distant communities.  We are grateful for the support so far and thankful for what is to come! 

Between Peten, Chisec, Solola, and Belize, in 2015 Abriendo will operate in 175 communities! 


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Organization Information

Population Council

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Alejandra Colom Bickford
Guatemala City, Guatemala
$41,416 raised of $50,000 goal
649 donations
$8,584 to go
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