Empowering Poor, Rural Girls in Paraguay

by Fundacion Paraguaya
Safira in front of the Fundacion Paraguaya office
Safira in front of the Fundacion Paraguaya office

Safira, CEM graduate of the Class of 2014, has been able to achieve her dream of working as an assistant at Fundación Paraguaya. She loved to help in the secretary’s office at CEM where she voluntarily offered to help the Secretary of the College and learned to answer the phone and do basic secretarial work. Since then, she had told us that someday she would like to develop a job like this. Safira is originally from the Toba Qom indigenous community of Cerrito Chaco, and she finished her studies Technical degree in the CEM despite several difficulties, including, becoming a mother at a very young age. She has overcome several barriers to finish her school and achieve a stable job at Fundación Paraguaya, where she is still learning every day with the help of her office colleagues. She loves secretarial work and we are happy to see that she is achieving her goals. Come on, Safi!

Safira at her job with Fundacion Paraguaya
Safira at her job with Fundacion Paraguaya
Bianca and Palmira present at Gramo Paraguay talks
Bianca and Palmira present at Gramo Paraguay talks

Bianca (22) and Palmira (21), graduates of the Educative Center in Mbaracayu (Centro Educativo de Mbaracayu) (CEM), shared their experience in the conversation cycle “Gramo Paraguay”, on Friday, May 27 in the Lyrical Theater of the Central Paraguayan Bank (BCP).  In front of more than 1000 people, Bianca and Palmira related their experience in living and studying at CEM, and how it substantially changed their lives and the way they value nature and the environment.

The students began their talk by highlighting the great challenge faced by women in rural areas who want to study, that the majority of these women are excluded from the educational system. “To be a woman in the rural areas is a challenge, but that does not impede us from chasing and reaching our goals,” said Palmira to the applause of the audience, and she added, “poverty isn’t only about material things; poverty is the lack of opportunity and of education.”

The history of Bianca and Palmira is especially inspiring because both managed to overcome the systematic exclusion being experienced by rural women and today, and now not only walk into a horizon full of opportunities but also work for a sustainable education that continues to reach more women. Both young women are leaders in their communities of environmental protection and nature conservation. With good reason, their speech ended with an emotional standing ovation.

Palmira represented at the US Embassy
Palmira represented at the US Embassy

Three graduates of the Educational Center Mbaracayú were honored by the U.S. Embassy in Paraguay, in MUJERES PARA EL CAMBIO #‎SheRocks. In commemoration of the Paraguayan Women’s Day and in the framework of the International Women's Day, the American embassy in Paraguay has awarded recognitions to women who have, from their positions, broken barriers and managed to excel through social projects, innovative ideas and community development. The graduates are Palmira, Neida and Numila.

Palmira, one of the youth recognized by the U.S. Ambassador in Paraguay, Leslie A. Bassett, in the framework of the campaign "Mujeres para el Cambio" 2016, also formed a part of the campaign driven by the Embassy, called #SheRocks. They had chosen a photo of Palmira for one of their posters that are displayed alongside the Kubitscheck avenue, next to the Embassy; enormous murals with a message written by Palmira, among other girls who were selected, dedicated to them and other women who broke barriers and have shown us, with their experiences, that every sacrifice has its reward. 

Students win Stoplight Olympics 2015
Students win Stoplight Olympics 2015

Twenty five second year students of the Centro Educativo Mbaracayú (CEM) are the winners of the second edition of the Stoplight Olympics, a competition aimed at students from public and subsidized schools from across the country, that become promotors for their families and the fight for the elimination of poverty.  As a prize, the students from Mbaracayú traveled to Camboriú, Brazil.

This year, the competition involved more than 2,200 students from 67 educational institutions, which competed using the dynamic Poverty Stoplight methodology that intends to help families eliminate their own poverty.  The students first guided their families through a self-evaluation of the family situation of poverty and then créate a plan to solve specific indicators, such as: family savings, insurance (medical and life), diversified sources of income, capacity to create a budget, access to communication and social capital.

Students, guests and Byker at the screening
Students, guests and Byker at the screening

On the 18 of September, in the Paraguayan-American Cultural Center, the long-awaited documentary “Daughters of the Forest” premiere.  The filming lasted for 5 years, following a group of students of the Mbaracayú Educational Center, and was directed by Carl Byker, the prestigious American documentalist. 

“We decided to make the movie because we found something unique was happening, and we thought the world should know about it,” states Mr. Byker in an interview in Paraguay.

He and the Musical Director Christopher Hedge came from the United States exclusively for the event.  Also present were the main subjects of the documentary, graduated students from the school, Bianca Soares, Nilda Alderete, Numila Goméz Portillo and Eulalia Krinagui.  Other special guests, included ex-president of Paraguay, Federico Franco, the Director of US Agency for International Development (USAID), Fernando Cossich, and the Director of Agrarian Education from the Minstry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Edgar Olmedo Núñez.


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Organization Information

Fundacion Paraguaya

Location: Asuncion, Central - Paraguay
Website: http:/​/​www.fundacionparaguaya.org.py
Project Leader:
Luis Sanabria
General Manager
Asuncion, Paraguay
$33,798 raised of $95,000 goal
568 donations
$61,202 to go
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