Friendship Bridge began working in the Sololá area in 1998. The area is located in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, at a distance of 140 kilometers from Guatemala City. Sololá is one of the larger, more prominent communities near Lake Atitlan.
The Tzolojya Trust Bank, which means Sololá in the Mayan Kakchiquel language, was established about 10 years ago. The group is comprised of nine members with an average age of 44 years old and an average formal education of 1.6 years (only two members have attended school). Additionally, its members have an average of four children per member.
The women of the Tzolojya Trust Bank have varied businesses including: bakeries, flowers, vegetables, tortillas, snacks and concessions, owners of stores of daily consumption (convenience stores), avocados, and handicrafts. The average loan of $655 goes directly into these businesses.
In addition to financial support, the women of the Tzolojya Trust Bank also benefit from training (provided in their own language) once per month by Friendship Bridge staff. They learn about topics such as: business and money management, over-indebtedness, how to market their products, and family and women’s health.
The women say they enjoy the group dynamics and the monthly meetings. They participate actively in the discussions, and always offer support to each other. Last month’s lesson was about the proper uses of the loan, emphasizing strategies to avoid over-indebtedness. The lessons are interactive and encourage discussion, giving the members an opportunity to express their thoughts on the topics. Friendship Bridge incorporates the principles of Adult Learning Theory into its methodology, recognizing the importance of participation and drawing upon the women’s own life experiences in the learning process.
Stay tuned! We will highlight Maria Santos Samines Buch and Marta Julia Yaxon Morales, members of the Tzolojya Trust Bank, next week!
This Trust Bank is supported by a Friendship Bridge donor who prefers to remain anonymous. Thank you for your generous support!