Concertación is a network of 14 groups of women near the city of Suchitoto. The women have worked together for many years on human rights issues. They received their ESPERA Fund grant in 2008. The groups elected a coordinator to the fund, Eva Martinez, and have 5 representatives on the board.
During their first year the women were able to do the following:
View our video about
Concertación de Mujeres de Suchitoto.
This network has been working together for about 12 years, with the leadership of Maria Luisa Mejia, a member of the Grail movement in México . The Red has 22 member groups, including 2 indigenous communities, Coatetelco and Cuentepec. The representatives of each group meet every two months to talk about their experience and learn about various topics of interest.
Cuentapec and Totolapan women’s groups received an ESPERA Fund grant in November 2008, each group has been managing a Fund. This year, 10 more groups received loans of $1,000 each to support income generating projects.
Maria Luisa visits the groups to understand their needs and help them make improvements. Cuentepec, an indigenous community, is using the loan to build and manage a community bakery. There is also a produce cooperative and a savings and loan cooperative.
The diversity of the groups in the network is a strength, the women learn from the experiences of one another.
The story of Mary’s Pence in Nicaragua, and the formation of Red de Mujeres de Nicarahualt, is a beautiful story. Mary’s Pence had been giving to women in Nicaragua for years. Kitty Madden, one of the leaders at Casa Materna and a Mary’s Pence grantee, saw that there were many talented and dedicated women in Nicaragua that were connected through Mary’s Pence but did not know each other. So she organized a gathering; seven groups were present, and Red de Mujeres Nicarahualt was born. The network has grown to a collaborative of 16 women’s groups across western Nicaragua, and they have new groups seeking membership in the network
This group has elected 5 coordinators. One is Reyna, an outgoing and gets-things-done type that likes to challenge the status quo; walk down the street with Reyna and she will introduce you to half the community. A second is Maritza, a savvy organizer and business person. She’s one of the founders of the Ojoche project which won a prize in Nicaragua for entrepreneurs. These are just two of the team that is supporting the work of the 16 groups involved in the network.
The network meets annually to make connections, share experiences and develop skills. In the spring of 2009 this group gave out its first ESPERA Fund loans. The first to receive a community loan was the Nahuatl Indigenous Women’s Council in Rivas, Nicaragua. They are working to end the exploitation of and violence towards indigenous people, and to raise the living standards of their community.
The women of Asociación de Mujeres Sembradoras de Esperanza, of Santa Cruz de Quiché, Guatemala have been working on organizing and supporting each other for 7 years. The Asociación is made up of 14 groups from local communities, and they became an ESPERA partner in November 2009.
With the initial $5,000 grant 40 women in two communities have received loans of 1000 quetzals (about $125 U.S. dollars). With these loans the women have purchased animals for breeding, supplies for their corn crops and extras for their families. Mary’s Pence will work with the women of the Asociación to expand the fund to reach more women.
The Asociación was founded by Sr. Marucha, a local indigenous woman. Over seven years she has worked with the women to form as a group, develop their spirituality, and build leadership skills. When the groups first formed women were reluctant to speak in group meetings. Recently Mary’s Pence Fund Facilitator Gilda Larios and Executive Director Katherine Wojtan visited with the women of the Asociación. Each group created an agenda, told their stories, and frequently did the translation from Quiché, the local language, to Spanish.
Women shared their stories of the difficulties of their daily lives, and how they still have anger and fear from the events of the armed conflict of the ‘80s. One woman told how she survived by hiding among dead bodies, and how after finding her parents a couple days later they were so traumatized they did not know their own children.