This project is a collaboration of four District 5010 clubs, collectively raising $7,100 for this project.
We are partnering with the Wakami Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit, who focuses on the lives of rural Guatemalan women and their struggle to generate sources of income for their families. They support business training to these rural women to transform cycles of poverty into cycles of prosperity. They also have 4 areas of social programs, including scholarships for school and Girls' clubs.
Wakami believes that every child deserves an education so they can prosper and pursue their dreams. Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in Central America and has one of the highest rates of gender inequality in the world. There is little access to education for children in remote villages - especially girls. The average number of years that indigenous girls spend in school is less than two. 50% of women under 50 had children before the age of 20. Girls and women are marginalized throughout Guatemala.
Wakami believes that education is the key to changing the reality of girls in Guatemala. In addition to providing school scholarships for children, Wakami has developed a Girls' Club program that seeks to empower girls and young women in life skills in order to prevent school dropouts and provide them with tools to prosper and move forward. The Girls' Club focuses on building self-esteem and learning about healthy relationships, decision-making, conflict resolution, health, and social responsibility. Participants develop leadership and communication skills, as well as technology skills and English.
Girls' Club is a unique program for personal and social growth where girls develop skills in a safe place, building bonds with other girls in their community. It is a place where they receive needed encouragement to stay in school, develop their talents, and pursue their dreams. The programs have had a positive impact in increasing the number of years participants stay in school and in reducing child pregnancy, child marriage, and domestic violence. The program meets three times each week, after school; and 25-30 girls, ages 7-16, will participate in and benefit from each program. Girls are separated into two distinct age groups, with unique, age-appropriate curricula for each.
This methodology and approach to encouraging girls to develop into healthy women through community-based Girls' Clubs have been implemented in two Wakami communities, with successful results. Wakami has recently received funding from a separate grant to start thirteen new Girls' Club programs in remote Guatemalan communities. Six clubs were started in 2022. Seven additional Clubs will start later in 2023. Each girls club will have 20-35 participants. While Wakami has the operational funding and support, it is lacking the funding to provide the girls with tablets, which are key tools for the girls to enhance their education. Currently there are 30 tablets shared by 162 girls in six locations.
This grant would provide tablets for instructional use for 35 to 70 girls in the six existing Girls' Club programs. Wakami mentors and technicians will be responsible for installing and updating software, monitoring use, and ensuring safety measures.
WHAT OBJECTIVES OR WAYS HAVE YOU IDENTIED TO MEET THESE GOALS?
Wakami has been working in these communities and others like them for over 15 years, and has seen the benefits that come from creating empowered, organized women who support each other and who have the strength that comes with having sources of income.
WHAT SPECIFIC ACTIVITIES WIL BE FUNDED BY THIS GRANT?
Grant funds will purchase 35-70 computer tablets for use in Girls' Club programs. The cost of the tablets is $200 each (Q1,546) from a Guatemalan vendor; delivery is free. Grant funds will be sent to the nonprofit Wakami Foundation to transfer to Guatemala and make the purchases.
HOW WILL THESE ACTIVITIES BENEFIT THE POPULATION SERVED?
Tablets will provide these girls with access to educational resources that are not currently available in their communities. Covid exacerbated already difficult transportation and school funding problems in these communities and many of these girls have had limited or even no access to meaningful learning opportunities in school. These tablets will open up a world of knowledge to them that can be life-changing. Technology lessons are a key part of the Girls Club program. Participants will learn word processing, simple spreadsheets, and basic design tools, as well as safe and appropriate use of the internet, including email and social media. They will use these digital tools when learning about personal finances and how to make a budget, and when developing presentations for their group entrepreneurial project. Also, they will be able to connect with other girls and do a cultural exchange via video conferencing. And girls will use online applications to learn and practice English.
DOES THIS FIT WITH ROTARY INTERNATIONAL GOALS?
Of note, the 2022, 2023 and 2024 RI Presidents all identified empowering women and girls around the world as their promoted focus. This project fits right in line with their focus.
TIMELINE FOR THIS PROJECT:
A portion of the collected donations are checks that are dated April 2023. These checks will mailed to the Wakami Foundation by May 15. The pledges and any district grant funds that we receive will be mailed to the Wakami Foundation by August 1st, 2023. Wakami will purchase and distribute the new tablets to Girls' Clubs within four months of receiving the second batch of funds from this project. I am hopeful we will be able to see these new tablets in action during our District 5010 trip to Guatemala and Wakami in February 2024.
HOW ARE ROTARIANS INVOLVED?
In February 2023, five Rotarians from three clubs in Alaska went to Guatemala and visited the non-profit Wakami. There we saw firsthand the impact the Girls' Clubs are having. Usually, the Girls' Clubs are limited to 20 girls; however, there were 35 girls in the club we visited. And more girls want to join. We heard stories of what the Girl's club meanS to them: a safe place to learn and have fun, supportive teacher and friends, and a place to be girls and smile.
More Alaska Rotarians will have a chance to visit Wakami on the next trip in February 2024.
Countless Rotarians helped with cub fund raisers to support the club donations, from golf tournaments, happy dollars and live and silent auctions.
Breakdown of Contributions:
Fairbanks College Club (club and private donations) $3532
Anchorage South Club (club donation) $500
Seward Rotary Club $1068
Homer-Kachemak Bay Club $2000
A detailed spreadsheet of all donors is available for review, if requested.