Paul Pearce (right) with mothers group leaders and staff in Cali, Colombia.
Dec 18 2015

Lessons of empowerment from moms

Paul Pearce (right) with mothers group leaders and staff in Cali, Colombia.

Paul Pearce (right) with mothers group leaders and staff in Cali, Colombia.

By Paul Pearce, director of global strategy for Unbound

Empowerment is a driving principle of the Unbound program and looks different in each of our families. So we need a nimble set of program activities, benefits and services to adapt to each family situation.

In a recent evaluation conducted with Filipino and Guatemalan youth, empowerment was seen as the attainment of education and having a good character or set of values to navigate the world. In one study, the ability to even imagine goals was described as a significant outcome.

Given the space to voice the way they see things, families share their insights. In Colombia, a mother named Martha, who arrived in Cali with two young children after losing her husband and a son in armed conflict, crossed paths with our staff and entered the program. She developed a successful food cart business with her daughter, who is still studying. She helps us understand the very definition of poverty and what authentic empowerment might look like.

“What people need to understand is … there is a difference between being humble and poverty,” Martha said. “We humble people have values, we have ideas, we have dreams. Poverty is really when you have lost the chance or ability to think about the future.”

A mother in India described empowerment as the ability to decide for herself what she thought about members of other faiths because she now knows women from diverse backgrounds through her mothers group.

Empowerment took the form of being in contact with people different from her. It resulted from personal experience in a small group and the information and knowledge that came from that.

At Unbound, our value of empowerment drives us to replace despair and isolation with hope and partnership.

Families teach us that empowerment is the ability to dream, perhaps after generations of that being a dangerous thing to do.

We will continue to champion humble families as protagonists in sharing their struggles and reality with all of us, and together, we will create a loving atmosphere where students, families and elders feel encouraged and safe to implement their ideas and life projects.

We are invited as sponsors and staff to walk with, to accompany, sponsored members and their families on this journey of unlocking the strength that lies within each person. We are learners at their sides.

And this empowers us all.

Help a family find their own way out of poverty through sponsorship.

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