Empower women. Eliminate poverty.


Non-Formal Education: The Impact of Chronic Illness, Preventing Breast Cancer, and a Positive Community Identity (Winter 2015)

A special thanks to our Cada Mes Club – Friendship Bridge’s monthly donors – for supporting our clients on their monthly journeys.

Each month the members of every Trust Bank travel, most likely by foot, to their designated meeting places to make payments on their loans and receive a Non-Formal Education lesson in their native languages on one of the four pillars – women, family, business, and health.

October – The Impact of Chronic Illness

Dealing with chronic illness is not something a woman does on her own, despite how much she might want to. Chronic illness has consequences that ripple beyond the affected person. The sick person consumes resources, but can no longer contribute financially. She loses the ability to take care of others, and she feels anxiety and sadness that are shared by those who care about her. To illustrate this concept, one woman was asked to walk a crooked line by herself, and then again with the aid of one, and then another woman, as a demonstration of the need for support when making a tough journey, as illustrated in the photo below. This month’s lesson emphasized the importance of personal health and educated the women on the risk factors that contribute to diabetes and heart disease. Based on these risk factors, each woman was asked to rate her commitment to a healthy lifestyle and to determine changes she might make to improve it.

November – Preventing Breast Cancer

After learning the prior month how chronic illness impacts those you love, November’s lesson focused specifically on breast cancer, a disease often preventable if caught early. Because the first sign of breast cancer produces no symptoms that can be seen or felt, the women received instructions on self-breast-exams and were reminded that self-examination is a form of empowerment that allows a woman to take charge of her own health.

December – A Positive Community Identity

Socialization in our families, schools, communities, and government defines the way we think, feel, and act. Women naturally acquire a different identity than men. December’s lesson encouraged the women to identify the messages they have received in these spaces over the years and to challenge those that are negative. The women spent time reworking the negative messages so that they promote personal development instead. To celebrate Christmas, the lesson ended with the creation of an ornament made of felt.


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    Cada Mes member Kathie Younghans (center) attended the recent Insight Trip in October and participated in one of our Trust Bank meetings. In this photo, Kathie is demonstrating the need for support when making a “tough journey.” Of the experience, Kathie says, “Learning to accept help is one of life’s lessons and it is then followed by gratitude.”