Skills Training for Single Moms in Guatemala City

by Institute for Overcoming Urban Misery (ISMU)
Single Mothers
Single Mothers' Crafts in Guatemala City

Thanks to your generous support, ever more single mothers are able to attend training workshops developed by ISMU (Institute for Overcoming Urban Poverty) that teach them valuable skills. ISMU empowers women to support their families and to transform their communities.

Fifteen women recently participated in advanced-level training in leadership development, which means that they’ve learned in-depth strategies for how to pass on skills they learned in earlier workshops. Women who have already been trained to use recycled waste to build beautiful handicrafts are now learning how to pass on their knowledge to other single moms in Guatemala City and beyond.

What this means is that not only is ISMU training single mothers to become independent earners and provide for their families, but these women are leveraging their income-generation to become community leaders and to help respond to massive challenges faced by women in communities around Guatemala.

In Guatemala, communities are challenged by floods and landslides triggered by recent earthquakes and exacerbated by climate change.  In response to these recent disasters, community leaders - including many women who have received handicraft and leadership training from ISMU – are working on developing disaster risk reduction programs that will train coordinators to educate, inform and empower community members to respond to disasters. Notebooks, emergency kits, materials and workshops are being developed in support of these urgent programs.

Your generous support will help these irrepressible women to continue to build strong families and communities through handicrafts, leadership development, and disaster risk reduction training.

Handicrafts Training Class
Handicrafts Training Class

The Institute for Overcoming Urban Poverty (Instituto para la Superación de la Miseria Urbana – ISMU) provides financial management training, funding for income-generating projects, and leadership development to women in Guatemala City.  It is through these activities that single-mothers are able to become independent earners and provide for their families.

With your help, ISMU has recently developed a new livelihoods program that trains women in making handicrafts (such as lamps, toys, purses, etc) out of recycled waste and in marketing these goods to the public.

Many women report they have already benefited from the organization's financial literacy workshops. They have been able to build more confidence in their roles as both the head of the family budget and as leaders in the community.

As ISMU continues to make great strides towards improving the financial and social status of single mothers the organization recognizes that there are still great obstacles to overcome. No matter how successful women's position as community leaders outside the home, inside their own households they still have to work hard to convince fathers and sometimes even their sons to truly appreciate the value of their work.

With your generous support ISMU is able to continue their work in ensuring financial security and increased status of single mothers in Guatemala City. 

Thank you for your contribution.

The Institute for Overcoming Urban Poverty (ISMU) helps women in Guatemala City develop the skills to become independent earners in their homes. They are able to give support to the women they work with through support groups, skills training workshops, and micro-loans.

Donating to this cause helps continue the amazing work they are doing and makes stories like this one possible:

“A woman that used to work in the maquiladora became unemployed, but continued to participate in the women’s training program and as a result, established her own sewing workshop.

The maquiladora where she worked gave her a sewing machine (usually these are old sewing machines that are maquilas provides as part of their payment to workers) and she was able to start her own business in sewing bedding and mosquito nets. She went on to distribute and sell her products to stores and big pavilions.

After tropical storm Agatha hit Guatemala City, ISMU went to buy mosquito nets at the market, not knowing that the main supplier was their own program participant.

That same woman came in the afternoon to ISMU office and said that the store had requested an urgent order of mosquito nets and that she needed a small loan to buy materials.

What a surprise for ISMU to see who was going to fulfill their order! Of course ISMU lent her the money so she could fulfill her order.”

Your support is so very appreciated - thank you for your investment in sustainable, community centered development in Guatemala.

ISMU designs and develops projects to empower women and youth that will help spur economic growth in marginalized areas of Guatamala City. They also identify people with skills in trades that enable them to improve their living conditions and their willingness to share and improve their skills.

ISMU recently trained a group of 17 women to gain skills as handicrafts community teachers. A requirement of their program was to replicate their knowledge and skills in their respective communities to build economic empowerment and community organizing for women. Community leaders have been trained and can now track the progress of actions within the communities.

To help further cultural and economic development, ISMU is also working to build their education program that addresses socio-economic issues by supporting children to continue their education and providing parents workshops on human rights and family-related issues.  The education program has thus far demonstrated tangible results:

·      In addition to the recent scholarships provided to 183 students, 55 more scholarships were given to students in Guatemala City and Tejutla, including school supplies, uniforms and shoes.

·      Parents and caregivers are attending meetings that explain the scholastic progress of their children and offer a forum to discuss and learn about healthy adolescent development.

·      Monthly meetings are now being held for youth, which encompass training and a space to raise concerning issues affecting their communities and finding solutions to address them.

Empowerment, through programs such as these, is an ongoing process, but will enable families and communities to be involved in shaping and influencing positive change.

By supporting the efforts of ISMU, you play a role in empowering and enabling individuals, families and communities to lead informed, productive, and healthy lives!

The women that work with ISMU learn many different types of handicrafts, techniques, and marketing strategies for selling what they make. The local markets are an important venue for displaying and selling handicrafts, and events like the annual Health Fair connect the entrepreneurial skills and personal development skills these women learn together with their crafts.

This year there was an exhibition of the crafts that the women made, including products utilizing materials that can be repurposed. Newspaper and plastic can be turned into baskets, centerpieces, lamps, photo frame, and bags. This helps reduce waste and is an important way to be eco-friendly. This is just one of the ways in which ISMU integrates environmental sustainability into this project to train women in Guatemala City and help them generate independent income to take care of their families.

Thank you for your generous contributions- they go a long way and make a great impact for this grassroots project!


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Organization Information

Institute for Overcoming Urban Misery (ISMU)

Location: San Francisco, California - USA
Website: http:/​/​​ismuhtml
Project Leader:
Gillian Wilson
IDEX Latin America Program Director
San Francisco, CA United States

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