Sep 21 2015

Electing a group leader in Guatemala

A mothers group in Guatemala electing their new president or "guide."

A mothers group in Guatemala elects its new president or “guide.”

Unbound believes in the wisdom of mothers. Our mothers group model operates from the basic belief that mothers are capable, resourceful people and helps mothers gain self-confidence.

We met with a mothers group in Guatemala who shared the process of electing a president for the group and how this process helps empower each woman.

The concept of mothers groups originated in India and has spread to Unbound communities across the world in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Through these small groups, mothers define their families’ greatest needs, such as educational support, health care, training for income-generating initiatives, seed money for a small business or community activism. They organize to meet those needs with guidance and support from our offices around the world.

In Guatemala, mothers elect a new leader for their group each year. The newly elected mother is called the “group guide.” She’s responsible for organizing workshops for mothers, coordinating letter-writing activities, gathering sponsored children to have their annual photos taken and collecting information on the types of benefits that families want to receive.

“The neat thing about this is that we all help our group leader,” said Rosalva, a mother of a sponsored child in Guatemala and a member of this Unbound mothers group. “She does not get stuck with all the work. All of the mothers get involved and help out.”

The mothers elect a new guide each year so that everyone has an opportunity to lead — something many of the women have never had the opportunity to do. The group gives them a voice to realize their potential and the confidence to succeed.

Marta, a guide elected in 2014, said the area where she lived had 90 sponsored friends and was divided into seven groups, and each group got to vote for its own guide. The mothers sit in a circle and vote for their new guide.

mothers in Guatemala

“We are all candidates,” Marta said. “It’s up to us to step up and say ‘I can do this.'”

Sometimes the guide provides Unbound-related information for the group. For example, she may learn a new trade at the local Unbound office, maybe candle making or starting a cake-making business, and then takes that knowledge and shares it with her group.

It gives the guide a sense of usefulness and self-confidence that she can lead a group of women to learn something new, and it gives the group members a sense of accomplishment because they are able to learn a new trade.

It promotes encouragement and positivity for everyone involved.

Maria, another member of the group, said she discovered she can speak to a group of people, and that her support is valuable for the mothers and children as well as the Unbound staff in her community.

“We want every mother to believe in themselves,” Maria said. “We want everyone to say, ‘I can do great things. I will succeed.'”

Donate to Unbound Microfunding and help a mother create a path out of poverty.

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