Mujeres Virgen de Guadalupe: Learning and Growing
When weaving through the rolling topography that makes up Santa Maria de Jesus, a town about an hour shy of Antigua, you will eventually wind up on the doorstep of the Trust Bank Mujeres Virgen de Guadalupe. The women of this Trust Bank are among some of the most delightful people that one could hope to meet. Leading the tenacious pack is Maria, the well-spoken, proudly elected president of the group.
On the day we visited, Maria, along with the rest of her fellow members, participated in a Non-Formal Education session that was designed to promote the importance of saving. Leading the session was Rolando, an incredibly amiable and patient Facilitator who smiled throughout the whole process. To start the training off, Rolando asked for two of the members to stand up. He gave one of the ladies, Maria, a lump sum of cash (monopoly cash, that is) and asked for the other, Carmen, to give a rough estimate of how much money her tortilla business brings in each month.
Once that was figured out, Rolando asked Maria to give Carmen the exact amount that is her monthly income. In addition, Carmen runs a side business selling her handmade huipiles in the local market, so extra cash was given to her accordingly. Then, Rolando asked Carmen to list out her weekly expenditures. For every expense, she was required to hand back that amount to Maria.
Once the expenditures money was given back to Maria, Rolando spoke of the importance of preparing for any unexpected expenses that might devastate a family. You might be able to guess what steps he took next. Carmen, now understandably expecting the worst, was then peppered by various scenarios ranging from a natural disaster to hospital visit for one of her children. With each scenario, Carmen had to give back different amounts of money. By the end of the training she was left empty handed.
The activity presented the women with a culturally understandable scenario that helped them see the importance of being financially literate and saving money. When asked what she thought of the event, Maria remarked, “with the training from Friendship Bridge and by the hand of God, we are able to save some from today to prepare ourselves for tomorrow.”