Girls Mentoring Girls in Guatemala

by Women Work Together
Mother/Daughter Teamwork
Mother/Daughter Teamwork

Guatemala’s school year begins in January and ends in October. This year approximately 650 teen girls and 170 eight and nine year old girls are participating in WWT’s Girls Leadership Institute. And that’s not counting their mothers, families, teachers and community leaders who all play important roles in the GLI programs throughout the year.

Here’s the part that warms the heart.

Over 450 mothers attended kickoff programs at the beginning of this school year that ADIMTU developed especially for mothers of the 7th and 8th grade girls in our level 1 and level 2 programs, La Vida de Mi Mamá (My Mother’s Life) and La Lectura Familiar (Family Reading Time).

These workshops are part of a stepped-up program that enlists mothers as primary allies in support of their daughters’ staying in school. The program also motivates them to advocate for girls education in their communities.

Mothers reported overwhelmingly that they came away from the workshops with a better understanding of how their daughters are benefitting from participating in the Girls Leadership Institute and staying in school.

“My dream,” said one mother, “is for my daughter to stay in school and become a professional so she can lead an easier life than I have had. I have always worked in the field, working very hard, long days, because I never had a chance to go to school. I want her life to be different.”

Here’s the part that gives us hope.

Forty-one educators representing all thirteen rural middle schools where our Girls Leadership Institute is operating attended a day-long workshop on The Importance of Self Esteem in the Process of Teaching and Learning. Sponsored by ADIMTU, our Guatemalan partner. The program was presented by clinical psychologist, Dr. Carlos Grijalva Barrios.

This comment by Prof. Julio Maranda, a school principal from the village of San Pedro Petz, was representative, “. . . the theme of self-esteem seemed very important and interesting to us because we are aware that women in our culture take second, third, fourth place. The opportunity to study gives them a chance to equip themselves to obtain the same opportunities (as men) but as teachers we need to understand how their self-esteem is, how ours is, what our feelings and emotions are and, above all, how we want the girls to have what so many Guatemalans are lacking, good mental health.”

Here’s why the future looks bright.

WWT and ADIMTU’s goal is for the Girls Leadership Institute to become part of the regular curriculum in Guatemalan middle schools, potentially under the auspices of the Guatemalan Ministry of Education (MINEDU). In support of this goal, local educators confirm that GLI programs and activities are aligned with national curriculum goals and could easily be incorporated. The real excitement is that each successive meeting with MINEDU seems to make this increasingly likely.

In May, WWT Program Director, Wendy Baring Gould, went to San Pedro where she and the ADIMTU team met with key people in the MINEDU of San Marcos to deepen their understanding of the work of the Girls Leadership Institute

Jose Inebal, MINEDU’s Director of Básico (middle school) for the state of San Marcos where San Pedro Sacetepequez is located, has since written a strong letter of support emphasizing his department’s interest in bringing the Leadership Institute programs to other rural middle schools across San Marcos. Olga Monterroso, the Director of MINEDU in San Marcos stated that, “…I believe that the Girls Leadership Institute is making an important contribution to the quality of education as well as keeping a significant number of girls in school.” In her remarks, she also emphasized the importance of taking these programs into more communities across San Marcos. She expressed her willingness to help in that regard, beginning by providing a letter as well, stating that she is very impressed with the programs and will do whatever she can to support both the ongoing work and its expansion into additional middle schools.

Our vision is that, as training proceeds and local teachers take over, they will incorporate the programs and their inherently participatory learning strategies into their classrooms, beginning with La Vida and adding each next-level program in subsequent years.

See what we mean about an exciting, bright future?

Whirlwind Week for WWT Program Director in SPS

In addition to meeting with key partners at MINEDUC San Marcos, Wendy Baring Gould worked intensively with the ADIMTU team during her May trip, both to review the program as it’s operating now and to plan for advances in 2016.

These will include the development and piloting of a teacher training program in 8 of our SPS middle schools. The goal is to transfer Leadership Institute implementation to classroom teachers rather change agents in order to subsequently expand cost-effectively and sustainably into schools across the state.

SPS teachers, school directors and supervisors of básico, most of whom have been part of our work from the start, attended a productive working session that generated many useful inputs and recommendations to inform this plan.

And, because life is not always about business, Wendy, on behalf of Women Work Together, treated the whole ADIMTU team - staff, interns, board and their families - to a Third Annual Fiesta de Familia with books for each of the kids (toddlers to teens), Chocolove bars made in Boulder for the adults, and ice cream and other refreshments for everyone. Of course, no party in Guatemala is complete without lots of balloons, too, – lots of them!,

Wendy reports that the most wonderful highlight of the afternoon were the many heartfelt remarks from men in the group, the husbands, sons and brothers of the ADIMTU team who, one after another, shared how much the women’s work with girls not only meant to San Pedro, but also the profound and positive impact it was having on each of them and their own families. Now that has to make your heart sing!

Two new videos to let people know what you care about

Ever wish there was a convenient and engaging way to share the story of Women Work Together in Guatemala, post it, tweet it or otherwise tell your friends and family what you care about?

Here is just that video. Produced by Board member, Jerrie Hurd, this short piece introduces the girls in San Pedro, their moms and teachers and describes how Women Work Together is making a difference in their lives. Special thanks to Terrianne Steinhauer for generously donating her professional voiceover time, talent and audio studio to this project. Watching it is almost guaranteed to leave you smiling.

This video is also featured on our homepage and is available on YouTube. Please take a look and share it with others.

Direct from San Pedro

This video, produced by the team at ADIMTU and San Pedro’s local television station, is a more nuanced presentation of the importance and impact of the Girls Leadership Institute on the ground there. Told from the local point of view and, most tellingly, thru the voices and viewpoints of the girls themselves, this video really takes you there and is an excellent companion to WWT’s concise snapshot.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of WWT volunteer translators Jazmin Levis and Diana Wilson and technical wizard Larry Walker, this 20-minute trip to San Pedro Sacatepéquez now has English subtitles.

Watch it here, at our website or on YouTube. Let us know what you think!

Girls in the Classroom
Girls in the Classroom
Meeting MINEDUC Director, San Marcos (white skirt)
Meeting MINEDUC Director, San Marcos (white skirt)


Progress and Accomplishments – 2014

Women Work Together (WWT), in collaboration with our Guatemalan partners at ADIMTU (Asociación de Desarrollo Integral: Mujeres Trabajan Unidas), set out to accomplish three ambitious goals during 2014:

  1. To dramatically shift program management, execution and development to the team at ADIMTU.
  2. To expand the Girls Leadership Institute programs for girls, their parents and teachers into all 13 rural middle schools of San Pedro Sacatepéquez.
  3. To institute a longitudinal evaluation program to assess the effectiveness of the interventions.

We can report that great strides have been made toward achieving each of these goals:

  • ADIMTU staff is firmly at the helm of an increasingly effective program, working with over 800 girls, their parents and teachers.
  • Beginning February, 2014, at the start of the Guatemalan school year, all three Leadership Institute programs were fully operational in all 13 rural middle schools.
  • An in-depth, three year, longitudinal evaluation program was launched, staff was trained in data collection and coding, and completed these as planned.
  • ADIMTU received significant support and commendation from external institutions including the Federal Ministry of Education.
  • The ADIMTU Board and staff brought all operations into line with Guatemala’s new fiscal and legal requirements for NGOs.
  • ADIMTU staff and Board applied directly to local and international funders for financial underwriting.
  • ADIMTU staff completed a comprehensive internal review and generated the organization’s strategic operating plan for 2015.

Transfer of Program Ownership and Implementation

Coming into 2013, the ADIMTU staff began to take the lead in all aspects of the work, as the emphasis of WWT’s twice yearly visits to San Pedro shifted from program development and delivery to technical assistance, capacity building, along with financial support. This transfer was completed successfully during 2014 and culminated with the ADIMTU team’s December trip to Boulder for two weeks of staff development, strategic planning and face-to-face meetings that strengthened existing relationships and forged valuable new ones.

The ADIMTU staff is fully implementing a comprehensive, sequential set of activities for all girls in grades 7, 8, and 9 in 13 rural middle schools across San Pedro Sacatepéquez. They planned and led 3 teacher workshops for the 50 plus teachers and administrators who support the programs in their schools, along with a series of workshops for mothers and fathers of the participating girls. With the guidance and encouragement of WWT Program Director, Wendy Baring-Gould, in her periodic onsite visits and regular skype meetings with the team, ADIMTU has grown significantly in competence and confidence, and they are leading the program with skill, dedication and professionalism.

Refinements in Program Design

The advent of the 2014 school year in February marked a significant shift in program design and implementation. Rather than being a pullout program as before, the Girls Leadership Institute moved to a saturation model, with all girls at each rural middle school participating in the Leadership Institute for all three years. Each grade-level curriculum (The Life of My Mother, Family Reading Time and My Little Sister) is taught by ADIMTU field staff in two classroom session per month over the 10 months of the school year, extended via collaboration with teachers who incorporate activities related to the programs into their classrooms. During January and February ADIMTU staff worked closely with these teachers to verify that Institute programs indeed dovetail with existing national educational goals and objectives.

The Girls Leadership Institute is the banner that defines all of ADIMTU’s work. This extends to outreach to and education for all members of the girls’ educational community/support system: parents, teachers, community leaders, etc. ADIMTU hired an additional outreach worker in January to help implement this more broad-based and intensive contact strategy. The ADIMTU staff now totals 5 full-time professionals (all women) and one part time data manager in addition to the 5 – 10 university level interns who support the work each year (women and men, working together).

Program Evaluation

An informal but especially significant measure of our success is the fact that after only 2 years of piloting, the programs of The Leadership Institute have been welcomed into all 13 SPS rural middle schools. In a very short time, ADIMTU’s work has evolved from occasional programs and activities outside of school to one in which teachers are setting aside class time for ADIMTU staff to work directly with all of the girls in all 3 grades. As reported by teachers and school directors, attendance and retention are improving, girls are more engaged in the classroom and attitudes among parents and community leaders about the merits of educating girls are changing. The girls themselves consistently report that they see the connection between success in school and a better future for themselves and their families. There is clear and consistent anecdotal data from all quarters to suggest that this work is indeed changing lives. And now we are poised to demonstrate this with quantitative data as well.

During 2014 Women Work Together initiated a three-year longitudinal evaluation of changes in attitudes, beliefs and behaviors of the girls participating in Leadership Institute programs, as compared those in a control group in an adjacent community. Data will be used to monitor program success, guide changes, and support applications for future funding. This evaluation program is led and overseen by RoseMarie Perez-Foster, PhD, a WWT Board member and Senior Research Associate, Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado at Boulder. The design includes written pre and post tests given each year to each girl. These measure self- efficacy, self-esteem, language fluency and desire to continue their education. Results from this first year’s data will be available in March 2015. Preliminary data was available and used to inform program planning for the 2015 school year.

External Recognition and Support

Since its establishment in 2012, ADIMTU has become known as an agent of community change. As such, the staff is often called upon to do workshops or presentations on the importance of educating girls and the impacts doing so will have on families, communities and the country. They are frequent presenters on local TV, and are becoming known as conduits for innovative programming directed at San Pedro communities with the core message: Send Your Daughter to School. This role is sure to expand over time as financial support and staff time allow. Examples from 2014 include:

  • ADIMTU has been awarded national accreditation from the Guatemalan Ministry of Education for the comprehensive Girls Leadership Institute. They are one of only twelve organizations certified to deliver educational programming in the schools during the school day.  This followed a year-long program review that included field visits by Ministry officials, written applications and in-depth workshops. 
  • The Ministry of Education is collaborating in our longitudinal evaluation, using all 13 ADIMTU schools as demonstration sites in developing its new, reading fluency exam and agreeing to share this data with ADIMTU.
  • The Fundación Juan Bautista Guitiérrez, a long-established and highly regarded Guatemalan foundation dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable communities, including programs for teens on reproductive health, agreed to partner with ADIMTU and spent a month working with students in 10 of ADIMTU's middle school sites during the school vacation in November 2013 and will do so again in November 2014.
  • The Kenoli Foundation has invited and underwritten costs for ADIMTU staffer to attend a 3-day professional development workshop in Honduras to network with like organizations and meet other prospective funders.

The Impact

The programs of the Girls Leadership Institute are active in all 13 rural schools of San Pedro, and include all the girls who attend middle school in each community. This saturation model is designed to change not only individual girls, but also the community’s overarching attitudes about the value of sending girls to school. These changes must start with the girls themselves, as their role models are their mothers, who grew up in a different time and were prepared to live lives that are no longer viable in Guatemala’s changing economic environment. Today’s girls need to see themselves in a new light, to understand that they have the capacity to change the lives they lead, and to demonstrate that possibility to their families and their communities. Every activity of the Girls Leadership Institute is designed to foster that change.

In addition to the direct response from the girls, teachers and parents, anecdotal data from community members familiar with the program report that the girls who are participating in the Leadership Institute understand that they have personal capacity and opportunity to create positive futures for themselves and their own families. In the communities where ADIMTU is working, the incidence of early pregnancy as well as the number of girls lured into human trafficking is significantly reduced. The girls themselves have an enhanced sense of their own value and are proving the truth of the Institute’s motto: Educated Girls Can Change the Future.

Individuals Served Directly during 2014

Middle school girls 13 –17 years old                                    630

Primary girls in Mi Hermanita program                                250

Parents of middle school girls                                                           800

Parents of primary girls                                                         325

Teachers & directors in middle schools                               50

Teachers & directors in primary schools                              80

Total Individuals                                                                 2,135    

Fiscal and Legal Infrastructure

Under the leadership of the ADIMTU Board, comprehensive steps have been taken to bring ADIMTU in compliance with the newly adopted fiscal and legal requirements of Guatemala’s federal government which pertain to associations of their type. This has involved working with an in-country CPA and auditor to formalize staff benefits, develop and implement extremely accurate accounting practices which track all expenditure with signed receipts, and create complete financial reports available for review.


During this past year, ADIMTU staff has independently generated four proposals to prospective funders which prefer to fund in-country. Two of these have been positively received and two others are still under review. In addition, they have hosted three site visits by program officers from prospective funders and managed these visits with very positive results. Coached and encouraged by WWT in these endeavors, the staff there has developed a firm understanding of the process and has been rewarded for their efforts. This newfound capacity helps to position the organization to move forward, post-2015, independent of WWT’s support. A central goal for 2015 is to strengthen prospects for sustainability on the ground.

We thank you for helping to make 2014 such a successful year. Without your support, these gains would not have been possible.


ADIMTU Team Members: Judith, Marla & Sussy
ADIMTU Team Members: Judith, Marla & Sussy

The five remarkable Guatemalan women who run our Girls Leadership Institute arrived in Boulder the day after Thanksgiving for a much-anticipated two week working visit. And what a visit it was!

This was the first time that so many of the players on both our U.S. and Guatemalan teams have all been at the same table. To no one’s surprise, we accomplished deeper work than ever on program and evaluation planning for 2015. We also made great progress on determining our strategy for creating a sustainable future for the Leadership Institute programs and for ADIMTU as a continuing grassroots force for change in San Pedro Sacatepéquez.

While in Boulder, the group had a chance to brief some of the leadership of the Global Education Fund on the growing impact of the Girls Leadership Institute and to personally thank them for their continued financial support. Similarly at Boulder’s First Congregational Church whose Board of Missions has also been a generous repeat funder.

Women Work Together hosted several informal gatherings for friends and supporters, all of whom came away inspired. At each get-together the ADIMTU team shared compelling stories, along with pictures and videos that made their work with the girls, their teachers and families, especially mothers, come alive.  They’d brought several moving examples of handmade books that the girls had written to illustrate what they'd learned and where they express their dreams for themselves and their country.  While those of us who could pitched in to help translate (none of the team are English-speakers), each woman’s passion for and commitment to this work came thru in every encounter.

The team visited several Boulder schools including Horizons K-8, the bilingual program at Casey Middle School, and an advanced Spanish class at Boulder High School. In each case, they were struck by the interactive relationships between students and teachers and how this stimulates, motivates, and involves students in their own learning. They also visited the University of Colorado, toured the Law School and other parts of the campus, and enjoyed the annual performance of The Nutcracker at Macky Auditorium. Many other experiences and adventures rounded out their visit, from hikes in the local foothills and the community experience of Boulder’s annual Parade of Lights to an excursion to the Denver Art Museum.

Worth noting: These five women embody the critical difference that educated women can make in creating a different future for Guatemala. They each grew up in nearby towns and villages. They are each the first women in their families to go to college and have careers, along with (some) being wives and mothers who are now motivating their own children to do the same. They are living models for the girls in our programs, demonstrating that the girls themselves can “be the change.”

Your financial support tips the scales in their favor. Thank you for your continued commitment.

When all was said and done, it was the people of Boulder who made the greatest impression on our partners and they on us. It’s with this in mind that we share with you the following informal comments from one of the team, expressed in her own words and in her own language, for those readers who read Spanish.

Mis Impresiones de Boulder – Comentario Individual

Alejandra Ramos, Agente de Cambio, ADIMTU

 Es difícil describir quince días de aprendizaje, conocimientos compartidos y vivencias extraordinarias.

Quedé sorprendida en cuanto al sistema en sí que tienen en Colorado, la autonomía que los caracteriza y les permite crear, generar y aplicar para el mejoramiento de sus mismas ciudades, como el caso de Boulder. De las experiencias que me impactaron fueron las siguientes:

Paisajes Quedé sorprendida de las montañas, la planicie del lugar, las calles amplias, los árboles (que aunque estén secos, los visualizaba en su pleno resplandor y me gustaban), la mañana del primer sábado en nuestra estancia allá en que salimos a caminar para conocer el hermoso lago, me enamoré de esas montañas y senderos y el amanecer lleno de color y viveza. El haber ido a las montañas y conocer una parte del interior o provincia de Boulder, conocer la nieve, disfrutar de ella, ver esquiar a las personas fue muy sorpresivo y llamativo para mí.

Cultura General La capacidad de las personas con las que interactúe, la facilidad que tienen de intercambiar conversaciones de todo ámbito de la vida, salud, recreación, política, educación, cultura, etc. Y esas mismas visiones durante todo el tiempo que estuvimos en Denver a mi en particular me permitieron disfrutar del Ballet de Los Cascanueces, que aunque ya lo había visto en otra oportunidad, esta vez fue con mayor escenografía, mas personajes, la elegancia de la orquesta siendo parte de la función. También el hecho de asistir al Museo de Arte, en donde no solo se aprecia y conoce el arte sino se interactúa con el arte, de donde extrajimos parte del artista que todos llevamos dentro, conocer y saber más sobre los indígenas, me permitió hacer comparaciones incluso con los mismos indígenas de Guatemala.

Educación Me gustó mucho asistir a escuelas del Estado, ver la infraestructura y recursos tecnológicos que tienen, pero principalmente la metodología participativa utilizada por las profesoras, y el nivel tan alto de intervención que los alumnos tienen, la opinión y análisis propio, el grado de confianza entre docente y alumno hasta el grado de confiar en el mismo alumno en que revisara su test de evaluación y tener el concepto de que no es necesario estresar al alumno pensando en un examen, para que éste aprenda sino que en la misma evaluación de contenido puede ser el momento para que aprenda. Ese pensamiento solo lo tienen los grandes educadores y los que en realidad han dejado atrás las clases tradicionales.

Presentaciones de Proyectos Cada vez que conocía a nuevos donantes pensaba: ¿Qué hacemos para recibir tantos beneficios de estas personas que tanto bien le han y nos han hecho a la comunidad en San Pedro Sacatepéquez? Y lo que era mejor, al momento de hablarles de los proyectos y cada una de las historias de las chicas, y ver los gestos y semblantes de aprobación y aceptación de los asistentes, me convencía cada vez más sobre los resultados alcanzados por ADIMTU, y a la vez me enorgullecía de mí misma por ser parte de esos resultados, y me permitió darme cuenta que nací y he crecido como lideresa en MTU que también yo he sido un piloto más, pero un piloto que ya está creciendo y debe seguir haciéndolo.

Equidad de Género Observar como realmente llevan a la práctica este tema, fue también interesante, pues al estar tan acostumbradas a un país machista y aún así tratar de ir cambiando generaciones a través de las chicas, el hecho de asistir a cenas por invitaciones especiales a las casas de miembros de la junta de WWT, lo primero que impactaron nuestros ojos es observar la integración que tienen los hombres en los oficios de la casa, especialmente en la cocina, el hecho de que sirvan la mesa y cocinen para su familia. Eso permite que las mujeres tengan las facilidades para un mejor desenvolvimiento académico profesional.

Concepto de dar y no acaparar El dar sin límites en las personas con quienes convivimos y que nos dijeron que era una característica del mismo Boulder, ese espíritu de solidaridad y humanitario y que desde pequeños inculcan eso en los niños de las escuelas o colegios, tal como lo observamos en chicos que recaudan donativos para dárselos a GEF, el solo hecho de que un buen porcentaje de con quienes convivimos forman parte de grupos de beneficencia social.

Profesional Muy contenta y agradecida por haberme hecho una cita con una abogada y profesora de leyes de la facultad de leyes de Wolf en Boulder, haber conocido las instalaciones, los recursos que utilizan, el pensum de estudios de la universidad. Quedé asombrada sobre el avance y la misma especialización que van creando en los alumnos para su formación. Esto me permite abrir las puertas para mi crecimiento intelectual y profesional.

Ah y la infraestructura o arquitectura de las casas, cada una con su particularidad pero con un diseño espectacular, acogedoras, bellas y únicas.

Finalmente estoy agradecida con WWT por la experiencia que me permitieron vivir y disfrutar y que a mis cortos años de edad sin la ayuda de uds hubiese sido difícil. Todas y todos nos trataron como reynas y esa esencia son únicamente uds los miembros y colaboradores de WWT quienes la tienen. Y como siempre decimos: De corazón a corazón muchas GRACIAS.

ADIMTU Team Members: Nancy & Alejandra
ADIMTU Team Members: Nancy & Alejandra
ADIMTU Team & Leaders of GEF
ADIMTU Team & Leaders of GEF
ADIMTU Team Visit Boulder High School
ADIMTU Team Visit Boulder High School
ADIMTU Team & Friends of WWT
ADIMTU Team & Friends of WWT


Girls Learn to Plan and Present
Girls Learn to Plan and Present

Cycle 2 of Evaluation Set to Go

Like everyone else, we want to know whether our work is making a measurable difference in the lives of girls, families and communities in San Pedro Sacatepéquez. We also want to learn how we can do a better job of what we’re doing.

In January of this year we launched a systematic evaluation program to gather much-needed data to substantiate (or not) our working hypotheses, measure impacts, and help us improve our programs. The evaluation design and instruments, overseen by WWT Board member and volunteer Dr. RoseMarie Perez-Foster, Senior Research Associate at the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado in Boulder, were developed in collaboration with our ADIMTU partners. The program is built around a pre/post test, control group design and includes collecting demographic data on both the girls and, to some extent, their families.

Combining the schools where Leadership Institute programs are offered and the control schools in which we do not offer these interventions, the evaluation team is collecting data on the better part of 1000 adolescent girls.

RoseMarie trained ADIMTU staff to collect the first cycle of data at the beginning of the school year (January-October in Guatemala). She’s mentored Advin Orozco Fuentes, an ADIMTU intern studying at the nearby national university and now-paid staffer, to manage the data collection, coding and entry. He recently traveled to Guatemala City for training by our consulting statistician, Dr. Meredith Fort. We’re so pleased about how Advin has grown into this job and has become an important member of the onsite evaluation team, a terrific unintended consequence of our work in San Pedro.

Right now the team is crunching cycle 1 data while preparing to administer cycle 2 of the assessment during October. We’re looking forward to sharing improved descriptive stats on the girls with you before the end of the year, followed by a more detailed report on program impacts and outcomes, ideally by February/March 2015.

ADIMTU Staff Attends II Foro Internacional

ADIMTU was honored to be invited and receive the funding necessary to participate in the Second International Forum sponsored by the Kenoli Foundation of Vancouver, B.C. and held in Honduras in September. The purpose of the Forum was to foster the exchange of knowledge, experience and outcomes among the 30 organizations from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua that receive funding from Kenoli. Of the 7 Guatemalan organizations attending, ADIMTU was the only one not yet funded by Kenoli, and was pleased to be introduced as a future partner.

Alejandra Ramos de León, an ADIMTU change agent who has been part of the Girls Leadership Program since its inception, ably represented ADIMTU there. Describing ADIMTU’s mission and programs, Alejandra both presented to the whole group and participated in small-group workshops. She also staffed a table where she had many good one-on-one conversations.

Alejandra reports that people’s response to ADIMTU’s work was very positive, especially among those representing other projects that address Childhood and Youth in Central America. She learned the ins and outs of preparing a successful proposal to Kenoli and what financial and program reporting and evaluation are required. She was especially pleased to report that, thanks to the hard work of their Board, ADIMTU is well-prepared to meet all such requirements for transparency and accountability.

You can count on it. Your generous donations are changing lives. Just ask our girls, their mothers and others in San Pedro Sacatepéquez. They all agree:  Educated Girls Change the Future.

ADIMTU @ International Forum in Honduras
ADIMTU @ International Forum in Honduras


Proud Father and Daughter
Proud Father and Daughter

As I was leaving Guatemala last February after spending over a month there, I was approached by a man who wanted to share his observations of ADIMTU’s work in the villages of San Pedro Sacatepéquez and especially what he thought about the impact it was having on the adolescent girls in the communities where they work. His opinion was of great interest to me, as he was from that region, had extensive experience working in community development, and had followed ADIMTU’s work over the last several years as it evolved and deepened.

What he said was profound. He had observed significant differences in the attitude and behaviors of girls in communities where ADIMTU is working compared to those of girls in neighboring communities where there is no ADIMTU presence. In communities where ADIMTU was not working, the incidence of early pregnancy among teenage girls was disturbingly high, he said. Girls commonly began bearing children at puberty, lured by the entreaties of local boys to become novios (sweethearts) and live happily ever after. As a result, 15–16 year old girls would often be trailed by several offspring and the course of a life of deprivation and poverty for them and their children would be set. In addition, the incidents of human trafficking were mounting, he reported, as when a shining pick up truck rolls into town and its driver promises a future in which a girl’s dreams would come true. Too often, the girl would climb aboard, never to be seen again.

In contrast, he’d observed that the girls who participated in ADIMTU’s programs had a much stronger sense of self. They knew they could stand on their own and that they had the internal capacity to set their own goals and make positive decisions in their lives that would help them achieve those goals. They knew that others valued them. They wanted to live lives in which they could make a significant contribution to their family, their community, and possibly their country. They were not lured by promises of others – neither prospective novios nor traffickers, to whom they would say, “I don’t need to leave, I have a place right here.” And, he noted, their peers, also program participants, agreed with one another, unknowingly but effectively shifting community norms along with their personal changes.

These differences are profound, and yet, when one examines the experiences and learning the girls acquire over the 3 years of their work with ADIMTU, one can see the reasons why:

In Grade 7 (La Vida de Mi Mamá) they learn first-hand about the hardships their mothers faced, and resolve to continue their education so as to be better prepared to lead a better life, with more opportunity.

In Grade 8 (La Lectura Familiar) they learn to really read, with access to wonderful books that explore lives and worlds outside of their own and that are selected by ADIMTU staff to include examples of inquiry, exploration, goal settling, persistence and success. As they share these books with their families, the girls bring new ideas and experiences into the family discourse, simultaneously opening the thinking and expectations of the whole community, family reading time by family reading time, household by household.

Finally, in Grade 9 (Mi Hermanita) they each take responsibility for a little sister, guiding her to success in school through weekly tutoring sessions while also demonstrating to themselves, their families and community members that they indeed have the power to create permanent change in themselves and in the people around them.

The girls who develop this sense of their own capacities want to grow and achieve their own dreams and they know they have the internal resources to do so. Of course, we can not claim this is true for all girls in ADIMTU programs, as the factors influencing their lives are many, but to hear a local man’s observations of such a general trend is very heartening.

The reports of the overwhelming numbers of young children and teens being detained at our borders as they flee their homes and try to enter the US to find a better life are startling and deeply troubling. These young people must be so very desperate to take on such danger and uncertainty. Surely, it must be because they feel they have no future where they are.

While relatively modest, as ADIMTU’s programs evolve they may well become a significant intervention to these overarching trends. We are conducting a 3-year longitudinal evaluation both to learn if this is so and to help ADIMTU improve programs in the field. We believe this to be true, and it has given strength to our ongoing resolve to help them continue this work.

As ever, each and every financial contribution gives the ADIMTU staff the resources they need to go out each day, armed with books and art supplies and activities which help turn these girls’ faces toward a brighter future. We hope you will find it in your hearts to make a contribution to support their work.


Thank you.

Girls learn leadership skills in the classroom
Girls learn leadership skills in the classroom
2nd year girls read aloud to their families
2nd year girls read aloud to their families
Delivering books to schools
Delivering books to schools

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Project Leader:
Tracy Ehlers
Boulder, CO United States
$2,130 raised of $30,000 goal
52 donations
$27,870 to go
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Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


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