Dear Creamos Supporter,
We are thrilled to share some of the many successes and steps of growth Creamos took in 2016. In total, we have serviced 134 women through the various components of our program, we have added two new members to our team and dramatically increased our financial and social impact.
To begin, we want to highlight one of our most inspiring stories this year.
Vilma is a mother of two boys and has been a member of Creamos since 2011. She graduated from middle school last year, and like many graduates, was debating what her next steps would be. In January 2016, Vilma made a decision very few women in the Garbage Dump Community make – she decided to follow her dreams and become a beautician. She began to investigate, and without any assistance, Vilma found a course to receive her Cosmetology Certification and immediately enrolled.
Vilma was aware that there would be costs that came along the course, but she was determined to make it work. In order to plan for her upcoming expenses, Vilma was the first women to sign up for Creamos’ financial literacy workshops – a six week workshop where Creamos participants learn the fundamentals of savings, budgeting, bank services and debt management. Vilma was engaged in the course and for the first time in her life, she opened a savings account.
Throughout the six-week course, she saved once a week in her newly opened account. In addition, she set up a piggy bank in her house, so she could begin to pass these habits to her children and made savings a family activity. After the workshop, Vilma found it difficult to continue savings, and went three months without making any deposits.
In September, Vilma began to participate in individual financial advising – the second part of Creamos’ Financial Education Program. She began to save money on a weekly basis again, and has created well-defined, time bound savings goals. She carries a little notebook everywhere she goes, to ensure she stays within her budget and writes down every expense.
The most significant change in Vilma’s life is her perspective on savings. She treats depositing money in her savings account as if it was a debt that she must pay every week. She is currently saving for her children’s graduation and to open her own hair salon. Vilma continues to be an example for her children and other women in the community. She proves that financial education in conjunction with determination to achieve your dreams can be the perfect recipe for breaking the cycle of poverty.
Here are other exciting updates from the different areas of Creamos:
Income Generating Programs: Creamos launched its new website, including our new online store, in September. In January 2016, Creamos implemented its newest inventory system, affording all participants the opportunity to become well versed in Microsoft Access, as they are all responsible for entering their products in the inventory.
In October, Creamos signed a contract with Wakami – one of the largest social businesses in Guatemala. This contract permits Creamos participants to become producers. This opportunity has allowed us to hire 5 women as peer leaders, and train any woman that is eligible to join. We are confifdent this opportunity will allow the women to have higher and more constant income throughout the year.
In addition, Creamos received two technical assistance grants from a private company, Alterna. This award permitted us to hire a sewing specialist who helped us expand our standardized line and hire a Financial Literacy Specialist to grow and evaluate our Financial Literacy program.
Individual Supportive Services: Creamos has conducted individual intakes with every Creamos participant evaluating the following areas: Demographic, housing information, financial security, financial stability, social support, intimate partner violence violence, physical health and emotional health. Short-term case management and crisis intervention has served 57 women.
Violence against women: In July 2016, Creamos was officially accepted into the Guatemalan’s Public Ministry’s “La Red de Derivación Metropolitana”. This is Guatemala’s largest network of organizations working in the field of violence against women. Creamos now has access to professional development trainings, and a resource guide to ensure we have credible referrals to provide to our women.
In August 2016, Creamos began it’s first confidential, closed support group for women who are survivors and current victims of intimate partner violence. The group finished in November 2016 where all graduates rated their experience as “excellent” and reported that they “feel more confident to manage dangerous situations” on the post evaluation.
Thank you everyone for your support and enthusiasm you have shown us this year. We are so excited to continue this journey next year with you all. We are more dedicated than ever to work as hard as we can to improve the lives of women an families living around the Guatemala City Garbage Dump.
Warmest wishes this holiday season,
The Creamos Team
Rosa and Justa
Elsa sewing away!