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
Meeting MINEDUC Director, San Marcos (white skirt)