Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay

by Fundacion Paraguaya
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Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay
Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay
Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay
Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay
Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay
Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay
Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay
Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay
Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay
Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay
Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay
Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay
Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay
Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay
Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay
Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay
Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay
Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay
Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay
Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay
Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay
Team Paraguay!!!
Team Paraguay!!!

Every year, nations from all over the world come together and compete in the "Homeless World Cup". An annual soccer tournament that aims to fight different social problems and that offers every player the opportunity to positively change their lives.

This year 8 girls from the Mbaracayú Centre represented Paraguay at the Homeless World Cup 2010 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

For each of the girls, having lived in extreme poverty, the tournament represented a unique opportunity and a life changing experience. Most of them had never even traveled inside of Paraguay. Actually, 4 players had never been in the possession of a national identity cart that stated who they are, until one week before the tournament. Now they are able to proudly possess a card that is their own and that allows them to travel, have proof of their identity, open a bank account, access health care, get a loan, vote for a community leader and many more advantages.

To be part of an international tournament and to act as a representative of their country made them feel very proud, as they finally felt that they are recognized for the virtues and their skills, and for who they are.

After one intense and exciting week of playing soccer, uniting in an international city, learning about new cultures, sharing experiences, celebrating diversity and making friends from all around the world, the 8 girls returned to the School. They will tell their classmates about the impressions they gained. Each one of them will tell her own personal story to their families and their communities. And like that, little by little, the story of each one of them will convince other poor rural Paraguayan girls that it is possible to change one’s destiny..............

Training at school before the big journey
Training at school before the big journey
The team presenting gifts to HWC Founder Mel Young
The team presenting gifts to HWC Founder Mel Young

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Palmira & the School's principal Celsa Acosta
Palmira & the School's principal Celsa Acosta

Palmira Mereles, student at the Mbaracayu Education Center, talks about her experiences at the International Entrepreneur Forum 2010 in Mexico. After winning third place in “The Art of Communication” competition during the IEF of Paraguay in 2009, she received a scholarship to participate in this year’s Entrepreneur Forum.

“Imagine being in my situation. A girl, from the countryside, crossing the border and visiting a foreign country. In the past, this had been an unreachable dream for me, but fortunately this dream has become a reality. An extraordinary journey awaited me. A journey, which would have not been possible without the help of the Fundación Paraguaya, who gave me a grant to participate in the International Entrepreneur Forum 2010 (IEF) in Mexico. Together with Melba González and our 2 tutors, Norma Barrios and Norma Ortiz, 2 marvelous persons, we started our journey to Mexico. I was expecting a lot from the Forum, and I could not wait to get to the Morelos State, where the event was going to take place.

As soon as we arrived at the Hotel Hacienda Cocoyoc, we saw a huge crowd of young people, 100 of new faces, all from different parts around the world, who gave us the warmest and heartiest welcome I have ever experienced.

The IEF started with the conference “Re-constructing my World”, by Beatriz Garcia Madrigal. It was an amazing conference with great moments of reflection. At the end of the conference we participated in the “Rally of Integration”, of which the main focus was group work and physical activity. As everybody showed a lot of enthusiasm and put a lot of effort into the activities, the results and experiences were great.

The official opening of the IEF was a day filled with emotions. As Melba and I walked in line, holding the Paraguayan flag, we saw all those excited people, admiring and esteeming the Paraguayan culture and taking our picture, we felt an indescribable pride. During the opening I was also interviewed by Channel 40, a Mexican TV station. They asked me interesting questions, with respect to my origin, my expectations and the experiences I made in Mexico. I answered all of them naturally and sincerely.

Time passed by so quickly, and without noticing the last day of the event had arrived. We said goodbye to all new friends we made, remembering the vivid experience, filled with happiness and funny moments.

At the end of the event the award ceremony took place. As I had participated in the talent show, in which I presented a typical Paraguayan dance, I could not wait to get the results. To my surprise and joy I got the third place out of all five finalists. In addition to that, Melba and I reached the third place in the competition “This is America”. This was a very special moment for us, keeping in mind that with respect to the number of participants our delegation was small, but it was huge, regarding its spirit.

I am very grateful for the opportunity that was given to me, because for girls like me, who come from the countryside, it is very difficult to live experiences like these. Experiences which awaken the entrepreneurial spirit that lies in each one of us.

 To those who accompanied me in this unforgettable journey, to everybody who gave me help and support, my parents, friends, the directors of the Mbaracayú Education Centre and the Fundación Paraguaya; I would like to thank you with all my heart.”

Palmira Mereles participated in the IEF 2010
Palmira Mereles participated in the IEF 2010
Palmira right before the talent show
Palmira right before the talent show
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A big thanks to all of our supporters!!!

The donations given so far have made an enormous contribution to the Mbaracayu Centre’s mission and vision: A girl’s school that all local girls can attend, regardless of income. A school that is a functioning farm, where girls grow the school’s revenue stream – and become agricultural professionals, gaining skills and expertise that their farm worker fathers never had. A school that is fine-tuned to the needs of girls and that will support itself in five years. That is our vision: a triple bottom line of social, economic and environmental returns for the entire community.

Currently, a bit more than 100 girl students between the age of 14 and 20 are attending the first and second grade of the school’s technical high school program. The location of the Centre is unique, as it brings together girls from different countries, cultures, origins and identities. Students are girls from Paraguayan, Brazilian and Brazilian-Paraguayan smallholder families, as well as from a local indigenous ethnic indigenous group, the Aché.

Coming from families that live on less than 2 dollars a day, these girls are confronted with extreme poverty. Especially in this area of the country, women have always faced a very sad and uncertain life, due to a lack of support, resources, education and opportunities. They are constantly exposed to the pressures of their communities to either find a job and to bring home money for their families, or to marry a rich man, and thus, be “set up for life”. Most of the girls are therefore used to an environment in which there is only little motivation to become educated. Particularly hard is the fate of most indigenous women. 90 percent of the indigenous people, like the Aché of Paraguay are pregnant by the age of 14. A 15 year-old girl named Claudia was the first Aché girl from her village to ever attend high school. Claudia’s mother actually wanted to send her daughter to the Mbaracayu School in order to prevent her from becoming pregnant. “All my cousins and friends have babies. So they cannot go on to finish high school. I am the only one who is not pregnant yet.”

On February 24, 2010, the Mbaracyu Forest School for girls began its second year. Fifty new girls from the poorest families in South America started school that day. A lot of people did not believe in us and predicted that our school would not make it to the second year. We proved them wrong. Our challenge now is to grow, so next year we will have 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade all together, to release the first class of graduates from our school and to achieve self-efficiency. These are big and challenging tasks, but our results so far show, that it is possible and that our dream is achievable.

Please keep on supporting us and help us to create the conditions the girls need to tap their potentials and to become self-confident rural entrepreneurs…..

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Organization Information

Fundacion Paraguaya

Location: Asuncion, Central - Paraguay
Website:
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Project Leader:
Viviana Rojas
Asuncion, Paraguay
$42,650 raised of $95,000 goal
 
648 donations
$52,350 to go
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