A portrait of Irma - Photo by Anna Watts
Creamos’ mission is to create long-term financial, emotional and educational opportunities for the local women and families in the community surrounding the Guatemala City Garbage Dump. For the past ten years, Creamos has gradually grown from a initiative, to a program, to an association. Taking the time to reflect on past successes while looking to improve aspects of our organization is imperative for continued progress.
Since inception, one of Creamos’ primary organizational goals has been sustainability in both a financial and leadership aspect. Participant leadership has always been an important component of our vision; however, this dream forces us to often confront interpersonal conflicts and mistrust amongst affiliates. Despite these clashes, certain women have emerged as leaders in our organization. These women have defied societal norms and fought for a better future for themselves, their families and colleagues. Creamos recognizes these women as our future leaders, managers and directors of the organization.
Although one may identify her as one of the more humble participants, Irma G. has been a leader for the last ten years. Three years ago, one of our participants in the program was losing her sight and could not complete an order for a notable client. Irma anonymously handed in double the amount of money that was asked in order to ensure the woman would get paid. No matter how many hardships Irma experiences at home, she has been one of the women we can rely on to emotionally support other women and go the extra mile to complete orders.
Two years ago, we appointed her as the leader of our newest initiatives, Wakami. Wakami is a Guatemalan company who has trained Creamos participants to produce macro-made jewelry. Wakami teaches our chosen leaders specific jewelry techniques, and the leaders are then responsible for disseminating the information and skills to the rest of the women. In addition, this leader is responsible for the distribution and production of orders, facilitating trainings, organizing payments, and holding colleagues accountable for issues regarding respect and timeliness.
Although Irma was hesitant to accept this role in the beginning, she has thrived as a leader. She has been challenged to rise up in times when conflict resolution was needed, devised and implemented creative strategies to ensure orders are completed, and has fostered a culture of fairness and accountability. She advocates for other women when she sees injustice, while also setting clear expectations of their behavior. Watching Irma interact with the group of whom she leads, is something special, and the respect she has earned from the rest of the participants is indisputable.
Despite her innate leadership abilities, Irma is very adamant that she is first and foremost a mom. Irma has single handedly raised her 6 children and continues to ensure they have access quality education and support from her. Irma’s two daughters are following her mom’s footsteps and working for Creamos while they continue to study. She uses her extra earnings from her leadership role to provide for her family and foster a nurturing environment in her home.
Our vision at Creamos is to foster leadership amongst our affiliates because we believe in them. We believe Creamos can one day be an organization that is run through the skills and leadership of our participants. Through methodical leadership training, access to education and thoughtful organizational structure, we know we will soon be able to tell many more stories of leaders like Irma.
Mothers from Wakami - Photo by Anna Watts