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Empower Ecuadorian Women to Elevate Communities

by Fundacion Hearts of Gold
Empower Ecuadorian Women to Elevate Communities
Empower Ecuadorian Women to Elevate Communities
Empower Ecuadorian Women to Elevate Communities
Empower Ecuadorian Women to Elevate Communities
Empower Ecuadorian Women to Elevate Communities
Empower Ecuadorian Women to Elevate Communities
Empower Ecuadorian Women to Elevate Communities
Empower Ecuadorian Women to Elevate Communities
Empower Ecuadorian Women to Elevate Communities
Empower Ecuadorian Women to Elevate Communities
Empower Ecuadorian Women to Elevate Communities
Empower Ecuadorian Women to Elevate Communities

Dear Friends, 


We have been working hard this 2019, setting new goals to empower women and communities.


This past few months Kallpa Warmi, in an incredible initiative to empower rural women financially, has been working with Hearts of Gold through Mírame  to help these women discover their inner strength and value through a series of workshops in communication, motivation, strategic planning and personal mentorship, totalling 30 hours so far in this new year.  


Hearts of Gold will continue working with Kallpa Warmi by offering professional workshops and support to strengthen the rural agro-collective’s organization, which is currently going through a change of leadership. Kallpa Warmi will receive stable assistance through this transition to ensure it not only grows but THRIVES. What began with 10 women now includes over 90 women! Let’s keep that momentum growing to support more rural women from Ecuador in attaining financial independence! 


In March 2019 Mírame began a new chapter, and took on it’s own change of leadership, with Project Leader Colleen Eschenburg initiating new opportunities for women’s empowerment as a formal partner of Hearts of Gold.   


As Colleen stated, “My goal in leading Mirame is to facilitate a program to help women find themselves, stand up for themselves, feel ok in their own skin.


We’re all on a search for happiness in this world, and we are often told if we do good at “X”, we will be happy. 


But what if the reverse is true? What if we were happy, as we are, with life as is, and then the good “X” followed? The good grades follow, the good marriage follows, the good job follows?


I want to help women find their center, and to find it by reconnecting with their roots. Their unique and beautiful Ecuadorian-Andean heritage.


After a lot of investigation and inquiry with local women these past few months, I marvel at the polarization found in their stories. Incredible resiliency, incredible strength, incredible feelings of isolation and low-self-worth.


Most women I’ve interviewed are not proud to be women, and most are also not proud to be Ecuadorian.


With Mírame, I want to invite these women to connect with others, to connect with the wisdom traditions of their ancestral roots, and to exchange support for one another so that they can come to honor their womanhood and their Ecuadorian-Andean roots.”


With this goal in mind, Mírame is lining up a series of workshops with local visionaries and ancestral healers to help women connect with themselves, their roots, and with other women.


Mírame will begin introducing this workshop series starting in September at CASA VIOLETA, a care-home for underage girls who were victims of domestic and sexual abuse. 


We want to thank you so much for supporting Mírame as it advances into this exciting direction and new collaborative partnership with Hearts of Gold.  Please stay tuned for the amazing news to come on the upcoming months as Mirame unfolds it’s services with the young girls at CASA VIOLETA!

Program Calendar for Respected Childbirth Week
Program Calendar for Respected Childbirth Week

Hey everyone!!

First off, Mírame would like to give a BIG THANK YOU to all of you who participated in the March fundraiser in honor of International Women’s Day. With your help Mírame raised $1,500!

Since then, Mírame has connected with two women-led organizations to host a series of events to empower Ecuadorian women during one of the most vulnerable and transformative times of a women’s lifepregnancy and childbirth.

In honor of International Week of Respected Childbirth (May 13-18), Mírame has joined up with Espacio de Co-Escucha, a women’s organization dedicated to helping women in crisis, and El Parto Es Nuestro (EPEN) an international nonprofit which promotes meeting the World Health Organization’s recommendations for maternal health and supports women throughout pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum stages. Together, we’re leading a week long initiative to empower women to practice natural birth and to educate families and professionals about the rights of womenduring childbirth.

During International Week of Respected Childbirth, Mírame will be supporting the following activitiesall free and open to the public, thanks to your support:

  • Inauguration of the mural, “Bosque de la Vida” (Forest of Life) on display in Museo Pumapungo’s public library in Cuenca, Ecuador. (Commissioned by a volunteer coalition of Ecuadorian artists, this piece is made from the imprints of hundreds of naturally delivered placentas. “Bosque de la Vida” is a powerful, one-of-a-kind piece of art that Mírame is proud to sponsor).
  • Informative dialogue circle led by EPEN to educate women and their families about their rights during childbirth.
  • Women’s dialogue circle led by EPEN to explore and discuss the transformational experience of natural childbirth.
  • Open panel discussion led by certified medical professionals regarding the importance of natural, respected birth for maternal and infant health, and how families and medical professionals can use their influence to change birthing practices in Ecuador.
  • Peaceful demonstration near Hospital Vicente Corral Moscoso to pass out informative fliers about natural childbirth and display public support for women’s childbirth rights.

Mírame is very excited about leading this awareness campaign, complete with TV interviews, radio broadcasts, social media communications and five interactive events to support a community-wide educational initiative on natural childbirth.

Thanks to your contribution, we look forward to celebrating International Respected Childbirth Week and reaching our goals to:

  1. Empower women in their natural right to respected childbirth, and
  2. Shed light on the medical epidemic termed, “obstetric violation”–a phrase used to refer to forced cesarean birth and invasive medical processes without probable medical cause.

As you may know, Ecuador is one of 15 countries globally to have the highest rates of cesarean birth – with nearly half of the Ecuadorian population (45,5%) being born via cesarean.

While cesareans are a vital and indispensable medical intervention that saves lives and they should be available to all women, cesareans are an extremely invasive medical procedure that affects the health of both mother and child. As stated by the World Health Organization, only 10-15% of pregnancies are sited as requiring cesarean medical intervention.

Cesarean births are on the rise due to many factors, and during International Week of Respected Childbirth, Mírame aims to help women reclaim pregnancy and childbirth as a natural, ancestral process (not a medical illness) and to be aware of their rights to decide:

  • how to birth (standing, squatting; consuming foods or liquids, etc.)
  • who is present with them at childbirth (husband, mother, doulas, etc.)
  • how their baby should be treated in the first moments of life (skin-to-skin contact, immediate breastfeeding, when to cut the umbilical cord, etc.)

For more information about our activities, please feel free to send an email to: Mí or visit us on Facebook. We would love to hear your feedback!

Artist in action for "Bosque de la Vida" mural
Artist in action for "Bosque de la Vida" mural
Artist in action for "Bosque de la Vida" mural
Artist in action for "Bosque de la Vida" mural

These last few months have been full of incredible experiences

This amazing group of woman from Kallpa Warmi have grown in different ways.

You have made possible for them to receive education and empowerment to help them grow personally and in their businesses, they have attended trainings such as Legal rights and responsibilities for entrepreneurs, marketing, self esteem, ancestral medicine and much more.


We were beyond thrilled with the efforts put in by students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)who spent the last two months in Sayausi evaluating the community based microfinance program “Cosechando Sueños,” founded by the women of Kallpa Warmi Sayausí!! here is a brief description of this great project

The Caja Mujeres Cosechando Sueños was started in September 2017 with a goal of empowering the women and at the time it was the first program of its kind in Sayausi. The goal of the program is focused on supporting every one of its partners, motivating them to invest in and accomplish their undertakings towards bettering their quality of life. The founding members of the Caja hoped to give the women more independence and responsibilities. The Caja was formed as a joint effort between Kallpa Warmi and two other organizations, one from Bellavista and one from San Miguel, to reach as many people as possible. The Caja also received a lot of assistance from the local municipio who helped the group get started as well as providing training. The program started with 23 members and at the time the largest loan that a member could recieve was $140. Now, as of November 2018, there are 42 members and they are able to take out up to $300 dollars in loans. In total, the program currently has $15000 out in loans and hope to continue growing even further. By the year 2021, Mujeres Cosechando Sueños hopes to be a cooperative of over 100 partners, committed to supporting and motivating each one of its partners contributing to their personal wellbeing.

“Rosa Bacuilima has taken out three normal loans. She used the first to buy chickens, the second to buy food for her pig, Juan, and the third to open her own bakery. The program has affected her life for the better and allowed her to become more financially stable. Rosa believes the use of her loan has been successful and would like to take out more loans from the Caja to further grow her businesses.”


And last but not least we visited this amazing  group of women during christmas along with santa claus tho drop food donations to be  given to the families who needed it the most.

We are already seeing a lot  of growth and positive changes in kallpa warmi, thank you so much for giving this group of strong women access to this life changing experience.


Cuenca Expats visit Kallpa Warmi
Cuenca Expats visit Kallpa Warmi

Another month later, and you are still helping us empower women in Ecuador. We are so grateful!

We would like to take a moment to share updates from the field, but first we would like to share an inspiring article that very well demonstrates what the realities in Ecuador. These realities are the inspiration for the Mírame project. This past month ELLE Magazine published an eye-opening piece that demonstrates the challenges women face in rural Ecuadorian communities. 16.9% of teenage girls in Ecuador are pregnant. This rate is alarming, and the highest in South America. We believe that by empowering and educating women, we can target these issues and support the female population in the long-term. 

Currently, our efforts are focused on a research and evaluation project with Kallpa Warmi! We are honored to have another student research group from WPI University. The 4 students are working with Kallpa Warmi's community-based micro-finance program, "Cosechando Sueños!" This program gives microloans to local women who are members of the initiative. It is designed to empower women economically so that they may escape domestic abuse and/or gain economic independence. The students' research is evaluating the pilot year of the program and addressing critical questions such as: what investment did you make? What was your return on investment? Do you feel a personal or emotional growth by participating in the program? What are your dreams for the future? We look forward to delivering the results of this project! 

Our goals for the future? We have many! 

Looking back on the pilot year of Mírame so far, we want to see it grow! We have been fortunate to provide empowerment workshops in the themes of holistic health, nutrition, motivation, yoga and meditation, and stress management... but there is so much more to do! We look forward to developing a formal curriculum for Mírame and expand its impact by inviting more participants from Cuenca's rural and urban communities. Our relationship with the rural women's cooperative Kallpa Warmi is one to be proud of, but we want to meet and collaborate with more women's groups! 

If you'd like to learn more about the program efforts or get involved, please send us a message! We work with volunteers remotely and on the ground. You can help us make a difference in the lives of these spectacular women! 

Students from WPI University start their research
Students from WPI University start their research
These strong rural women inspire us!
These strong rural women inspire us!


Women advancing their culinary skills!
Women advancing their culinary skills!

Everyday we are trying to contribute to the betterment of women and their livelihoods in Ecuador through the Mírame initiative! To us, that means working through an empowerment model where women have an opportunity to receive education and make decisions in their own lives!

Here are some of our most recent activities:

  • Hearts of Gold is proud to announce that we launched our first Women’s Empowerment Conference “Contra Reloj!” 100 women from the Cuenca community gathered for a night of inspiration with three keynote speakers presenting on nutrition, self-care, and motivation! Thank YOU for making fabulous gatherings like this possible!
  • We are honored to continue working with Kallpa Warmi, a women’s entrepreneurial and agricultural collective in the rural town of Sayausí!  Last month we led a group of 17 expats to spend a day in the country, learning about farming and culinary practices in support of Kallpa Warmi’s eco-tourism program. This month, we connected with the international CHANGE Magazine to feature the work of Kallpa Warmi and their endeavors as women to protect the agriculture and water of Ecuador. Check it out!
  • Now we embark on a new research project to evaluate Kallpa Warmi’s “Cosechando Suenos” project. The Cosechando Suenos project is a local micro-credit initiative where 40 women and 4 men are investing in the group’s savings and receive micro-loans for their agricultural or entrepreneurial production. The inspiration behind this initiative is to give women a chance to escape abusive environments, beat the odds of the local economy and cycle of poverty, and achieve economic independence!

The pilot year of the initiative went very well and 45 micro-loans were disbursed and paid in full. Alongside Hearts of Gold, 4 students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) are undergoing a research project to assess the success of the program, which loans and activities had more return on investment, and how the group is impacting social and gender-based issues in the rural town. We can’t wait to report back on what they find!

To ensure their success moving forward, we invite Kallpa Warmi to attend all capacity building programs we offer, along with mentoring hours to push their goals forward!

This cycle Kallpa Warmi participated in networking events to meet other local leaders, the Contra Reloj Women’s Empowerment Conference, and our second annual Somos el Cambio (“We are the Changemakers”) Seminar in Marketing and Communications.

We look forward to expanding Mírame’s programs with women’s groups in Cuenca and beyond! Stay tuned as we continue to grow and together empower women in Ecuador!

The beautiful agricultural life in Sayausi
The beautiful agricultural life in Sayausi
Expats visiting Kallpa Warmi
Expats visiting Kallpa Warmi
Presenters at our first conference!
Presenters at our first conference!
A huge THANK YOU from the Hearts of Gold team!
A huge THANK YOU from the Hearts of Gold team!



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Organization Information

Fundacion Hearts of Gold

Location: Cuenca - Ecuador
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Hearts_Of_Gold
Project Leader:
Maria Jose Orellana
Cuenca, Ecuador
$15,616 raised of $15,000 goal
432 donations
$0 to go
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