Empower women. Eliminate poverty.

Tag : poverty

Crowdfunding Q&A with Marty Musselman

Each September, we hold a crowdfunding campaign that raises awareness and money to expand our health program. We call this campaign our Salud-a-thon (salud means “health” in Spanish). Our crowdfunders take on their own health challenges for a month, using these challenges as platforms to spread the word about Friendship Bridge’s health program and expand this program to reach even more Guatemalan women. Last year, Marty Musselman raised over $2,000, which provided preventive health services to 80 women – many of whom had never accessed these types of services before. We sat down with Marty to hear more about her experience and her incredible success.  IMG_0297

Did you have any fears about crowdfunding before you began?
Absolutely. I had a lot of trepidation because I didn’t know anything about crowdfunding, and I’m not very tech savvy. I thought it would be a huge challenge for me. But I was really very happy and surprised with how easy it was. It was so much easier than I expected, and it had so much better results than I expected.

Did you have reservations about fundraising?
I found personally I’m hesitant about asking for money from my friends, but I just decided, you know, people can decide themselves whether they want to participate or not. So I sent emails out to my book club, my walking and hiking groups, family, friends, and neighbors. It was really heartwarming to see who actually participated.

How did you promote your campaign?
I did a couple of updates along the way and utilized some of [Friendship Bridge’s] suggestions about email content. I gave some information about how this would help our clients in Guatemala, some of the misconceptions they had about healthcare, and how little access to healthcare they actually had. I think that information was helpful. It was nice that it was only a month, so you have a short period of time and you’re rolling the whole time.

Can you tell me about your health challenge?
I was going to meditate 10-15 minutes each day, amp up my exercising, and try to eat more fruits and vegetables. But what really struck me as I was reflecting on health was how here, in the U.S., we have the ability and resources to do these things. We have health insurance if we have an injury or illness. We have the resource of time to be able to do meditation or exercise. We have facilities that have fresh fruit and vegetable that are very accessible. And in comparison, I know our clients Guatemala often have none of those things. They don’t have a health safety net. There’s a lot of misinformation about general health issues. And they don’t have the time or monetary resources to do a lot of these health related activities like we do here. So it really made it very clear to me how fortunate we are and how important it is for us to do things like this to help Guatemalan women have better access to healthcare.

What would you say to someone wondering if they should sign up?
I would say that I had a huge amount of trepidation to begin with as well, but if I can do it, then anyone can do it! The ratio of time spent and money received is just amazing, so I think that’s another huge plus. If people think it’s going to be time consuming and frustrating, it’s not. It’s not time consuming at all, and it’s relatively easy to do, especially when you have resources to call upon if you run into problems. It was refreshingly more easy than I anticipated.

If you’d like to join our 2016 Salud-a-thon, create your crowdfunding page today!

Empowering women leads to more children in school

Women are changemakers. When women are empowered, the impact extends to their families, their communities, and even their entire regions and countries. Earlier this month we shared Ana’s story – how she was empowered through Friendship Bridge loans and education to create a better future. But not only is her own future more hopeful, but with her newfound confidence and resources, Ana is empowered and equipped to change her family’s future.

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Ana’s success means better outcomes for her two children, Abner (age 15), and Nicolle (6 months). “I want my kids to live well. I want them to succeed and I want to be a good example to them,” Ana says.

Ana’s son Abner (pictured at right) says his goal is to finish his education. He says he wants to follow the example his mother has set – of hard work and providing for her family. “I want her to feel proud of me, as I do of her,” Abner says.

Friendship Bridge’s Non-Formal Education program emphasizes family care topics like keeping children in school. These trainings, along with Ana’s increased business income, have motivated and allowed her to keep Abner in school. He is currently in 8th grade, which is remarkable considering only 60% of children in Guatemala finish the 6th grade. With his education, Abner will be equipped to realize his own dreams for his future. As far as making his mother proud – well, Ana practically radiates pride when she talks about her son.

Friendship Bridge recognizes that education is a critical component of breaking the cycle of poverty, especially for indigenous populations in rural areas. To empower our clients to keep their children in school, we offer a CrediEscolar loan to offset the costs associated with school enrollment – such as uniforms, school supplies, and other fees.

Last year, more than 1,000 students were supported with Friendship Bridge CrediEscolar loans. Clients who took out the loans say they would have had to sacrifice in other areas if they had not received the loan. Remarkably, 26% of the clients who invested in education through a CrediEscolar loan had no education themselves, but through this loan are making a commitment to their children’s growth and education. From 2013 – 2014, school enrollment of our clients’ dependent children between ages 7 and 13 increased 17%. You can read more about the impact of CrediEscolar in our 2014 Impact Report.

We invest in women because they reinvest 90% of their income back into their family – prioritizing things like health and education. Investing in women and providing them loan options that fit their individual objectives means children like Abner stay in school and entire families and communities enjoy better futures. Investing in women means investing in generational change.

 

Support children like Abner in November and double your impact! A longtime supporter of Friendship Bridge believes so strongly in the power of our work that he has offered a challenge gift of $30,000 if Friendship Bridge can raise more than $30,000 in new or increased gifts through November 30th. Can you help us unlock this challenge gift by giving today?

Giving Provides Opportunities for Grateful Clients

Petrona tablecloth

Petrona is an artisan weaver with five children – she shows a tablecloth she will set at market.

Giving is empowering and so is gratitude. In the case of Friendship Bridge clients, gratitude is the experience of being thankful for the opportunities that develop and resources that help them achieve their dreams.

On December 2, following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday will celebrate generosity on a global scale and encourage giving to benefit others. For assisting our clients in Guatemala, your act of giving could be as simple as contributing on the Donate section of the Friendship Bridge website or donate on the Friendship Bridge crowdfunding site, http://empowerwomen.causevox.com/. You could also set a 24-hour goal for December 2 and create a personal fundraising page (it’s easy – go to Sign Up in the right corner of the page, write why you want people to give, and invite your friends and family to donate)!

Giving Tuesday BannerWhen you give, you are helping clients like Petrona Churunel Noj, a 32-year-old mother of five boys who produces handmade fabrics to sell at market. Her weaving artistry with a backstrap loom creates shawls, tablecloths and blouses as well as other finished products. She lives in Chuacruz in the western highlands of Guatemala.

Petrona was unable to attend formal school, but with her Friendship Bridge loan and involvement in the Trust Bank Girasoles Chuacruz (“Sunflowers of Chuacruz”), she receives non-formal education to improve her business and reach her goals. Now she has a variety of materials to weave and is meeting the demand of her local and national clients.

The quality of her life has improved, and she is passing achievement along to her children by using a “Rapidito Escolar,” or school loan, to support her children’s education. The loan helps Petrona with school fees for three children already attending classes. Petrona can buy new shoes for her kids to walk to school and uniforms. She truly values this product because it provides both necessary and extra items that help her children develop fully and reach for better opportunities. Petrona and her husband, a laborer, plan to provide education to all five children.

Petrona is excited for the year-end holidays as she expects to sell more during this time. This will allow her to make money to prepare for the new school year starting in January, 2015.

Your generosity and support will help Petrona and thousands of other entrepreneurial women in Guatemala care for themselves, their families and communities. Please consider giving on December 2, or before year-end.

 

Petrona weaving

A colorful tapestry woven by Petrona, who has local and national clients in Guatemala.

Education Teaches Clients Concepts for Success

Education Teaches Clients Concepts for Success

Trust Bank education

Two clients review a handout during non-formal education in a trust bank meeting.

Non-formal education (NFE) is a lifeline for more than 22,000 Friendship Bridge clients. In addition to the monetary resources Friendship Bridge clients receive for their businesses, topics like “empowerment,” “avoiding over-indebtedness” and “children having children” speak to the realistic environment of women in rural Guatemala. While the training for clients is considered “non-formal,” the curriculum for how to facilitate learning on key topics is quite strategic and specific.Country Director Astrid Yerlin Cordona Morán de Paiz said the program teaches the women about what it means to be respected, financially wise and healthy, as a woman, as a wife, a mother and a business owner.

Topics are developed two years in advance to provide strategic direction but the timing of delivery is flexible according to client surveys. Timely topics that are immediately applicable to clients, such as the real dangers of child migration to the U.S., are pushed to clients as quickly as possible. Reports indicate that 80 percent of clients attend sessions of 45 minutes to an hour during their monthly Trust Bank meetings. Trust Banks are solidarity groups of seven to 30 women who co-guarantee the loans of their fellow members.

A flip chart with pictures and an accompanying training guide for the facilitator are the main tools used to lead the conversation. The Learning Network, a group of facilitators who represent one of each of the six Friendship Bridge branches, meets monthly to rehearse topics a month prior to deployment in the field. This group then replicates the activity within their respective branches so that all facilitators are trained on how to deploy the next month’s topic and can anticipate client concerns and dynamics. After the topic has been introduced in the field, The Learning Network relays client and facilitator feedback to the Education Manager for future revisions.

To continually improve the quality of the education sessions, all Friendship Bridge facilitators will take a 60-hour module developed by Freedom From Hunger, a long-time partner. The course will end with a certificate of completion for each unit, which covers information related to health, nutrition, business and managing money.