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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Women Work Together

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: International, International Relief

Mission: The mission of Women Work Together is to raise the socio-economic status of Guatemalan women and girls by cultivating and strengthening their ability to work effectively in groups and aspire to leadership, thus accelerating positive changes in their lives and in their communities.

Results: During 2010 Women Work Together made 2 working trips to San Pedro Sacatepéquez, spending a total of 7 weeks there working directly with over 1500 women and girls from rural villages, plus 30 U.S. and Guatemalan volunteers. More specifically, • WWT established an ongoing Leadership Institute program for junior high age girls to include follow-up through the girls’ transition to young adulthood. • WWT visited ten rural Girls Clubs (average size 35), each started by girls from our Leadership Institute. The members briefed us on their progress and plans, and we facilitated team-building workshops. • WWT worked with the City to establish a paid team of extension workers whom we are training to support our work with Women’s Groups and Girls Clubs in 14 villages. • WWT recruited Girls Club members’ mothers and community mentors to collaborate with our extension workers and the girls’ teachers to support each Club. • WWT continued working with Women’s Groups, offering more than 30 workshops on team building and empowerment. During 2011, Women Work Together will return to San Pedro with volunteer teams in March and November. On each trip we will advance our Leadership Institute and Women’s Workshops, work with Girls’ Clubs, train local extension workers, and strengthen our partnership with the SPS Women’s Office. We will also incorporate two new emphases: • WWT will introduce Madres e Hijas (Mothers and Daughters) a program to join the two generations in their efforts to educate girls. The Women’s Workshops will provide a place for mothers to strategize around the challenges of sending their daughters (even just one) to school and consider the effects on their lives of their own lack of education. • WWT will step-up our recruiting and training of local university students, mothers, and community members to work with the Women’s Office team year round, and alongside our U.S. volunteers during our field trips.

Target demographics: Our primary target is junior high age girls 12-16 years old in the Mayan highlands of Guatemala, along with women in these same villages, the girls' teachers, a dedicated corps of municipally-funded extension workers, university-based interns and other community volunteers.

Direct beneficiaries per year: Nearly 100 girls attend the Leadership Institute; the14 Girls Clubs membership totals 500 + girls; Womens Workshops touch another 500 + women; trainings for outreach workers, teachers, interns and other SPS volunteers impact some 50 people; about 20-25 volunteers travel to San Pedro to work with us and staff our workshops side-buy-side with our partners there.

Geographic areas served: San Pedro Sacatepéquez, San Marcos, Guatemala

Programs: Leadership Institute for Junior High Age Girls, Girls Clubs, Book Circles, Women Workshops, Trainings for City staff, teachers, university interns and community volunteers.

Community Stories

15 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Leticia C.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Women Work Together is wonderful. They have offered me the opportunity to grow as an individual and develop skills never imagined. My spanish has improved as well as my world view. Women Work Together works as a team and I love it!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am we went to a currently in Guatemala for my second volunteer experience with the nonprofit Women Work Together Last week we went to a small village where the young girls ( ages 11-15) are working on a project called " The Life of My Mother". The girls were asked to spend an hour a week talking to their mothers to learn more about their mother's experiences growing up, marrying, having children and then to write those interviews in a journal. Many of the mothers had never had the opportunity to reflect or discuss their lifehistory with their daughters before.

Our time in El Cedro was a very emotional and fun experience for all. After discussing the challenges and obstacles to completing the journals we spent time on a group art project where groups of mothers and daughters worked together to replicate a picture that they had seen only briefly. There was much laughter, team work and drawing as the groups completed their projects. It was wonderful to see everyone taking a break from school and work to have fun, spend time together and work as a team to complete their drawings.

After the whole group had time to see everyone's drawings, we returned to the journals and the girls presented their journals to their mothers, many of whom cannot read or write. The presentations brought tears to all of us and many of the mothers and girls as well. Girls told their mothers of their appreciation of the hardships they have been through and of the support they have provided for their daughters. One girl said she would read this journal to her daughters so that they would know about their grandmother's life. Several girls said they would read their journal to their mother. We concluded this part of the day by acknowledging the value of each person, especially the mothers in the room, since education begins in the home and it is only through their support and efforts that their daughters have the opportunity to go to school today.

Touching the lives of women and girls one at a time!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I signed on to design and build a comprehensive new web presence for Women Work Together, and the members of the organization have been gracious, thoughtful, and a pleasure to work with. In a series of meetings we were able to identify the goals and strategies that made the project a success, and it was clear from the beginning how passionate they were about their work. Building a website is a lot easier when you know that it matters.

malindapainter

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It's been so much fun to volunteer for WWT. The organization is dedicated to "Keeping Girls in School" in Guatemala and the ladies there are always busy putting together projects for the workshops that are held 2+ times a year. I've enjoyed trying out some new skills on things that i've pondered doing but haven't had the opportunity or motivation to try on my own - such as putting together a book to advertise the organization's mission and hone some adobe skills. It's been challenging and rewarding working with such a great group of people. I was particularly attracted to the organization's mission and their willingness to work with me on finding projects to give back.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My son is adopted from Guatemala and it's been a great way to learn about his culture. I hope to go for field work as well as a family trip to give him an experience grounded in his culture. I do IT work for WWT and always feel very appreciated.

Susan L.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Going to Guatemala and working with the middle school girls was probably the best volunteer experience I've ever had. Watching the girls as they interacted with each other and with the volunteers was like watching sponges soaking up what is around them. I helped organize a game night that provided lots of fun experiences for them. I look forward to being able to go again very soon.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I just returned from my first trip to Guatemala with WWT and it was fabulous. I had heard about WWT for a long time and was sure that what they were doing was a valuable service but until I saw it and experienced it with my own eyes I had no idea what an impact they are making. Seeing a government caring about the young girls and women in their community as San Pedro does is so inspiring. Women Work Together and the government of San Pedro work together to help and to educate the girls and women of the community.

Amaya B.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I loved working with the girls in Guatemala! It was an amazing experience. Even though we were there to impact and motivate these young women to get involved, work together, and take a stand in their community, I feel like THEY impacted ME in the highest degree. I was deeply touched while spending time with girls and women in San Pedro. They have so much energy and so much motivation to help improve their status in their communities. It made me realize how much of our help is needed. It is crucial that we continue to raise awareness about the marginalization of women in these communities as well as stress the importance of education for women. WWT has already made a huge difference for many women in San Pedro and the surrounding communities and, with more support, will continue to make a difference in an effort to one day make all these women finally feel important, valued, and cherished in their communities.

Rebekah H.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

While completing my Masters in Library and Information Sciences I was fortunate to be able to participate in not one but two trips to San Pedro Sacatepequez, Guatemala with Women Work Together. Dr. Ehlers had noticed that a common theme with her girl's groups was a desire to have a library so she reached out to our department. I worked not only with the Girls Clubs, the Women's Groups, and the Leadership Institutes, I was also able to work with the local librarians during my stay to lay groundwork for future library projects in the area. It was an amazing experience and I was able to see first hand how much the community values WWT and the impact they are having on women and girls particularly in the rural communities. My work with WWT reminded me how lucky I am and the responsibility that we have to help out those less fortunate. WWT is not about just throwing money at a problem (although money is necessary for the work) it's about working with the community and empowering members of the community to bring about positive change and owning their own projects and goals.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience with Women Work Together completely changed my life and revitalized my desire to change the world through education. It was the most positive and heartwarming event in my life thus far and for that I am so grateful. This organization is really improving the lives of girls and women in Guatemala. Everyone involved with Women Work Together are kind, compassionate, motivated, and most of all, inspiring.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering has always been a part of my life but my experience volunteering with Women Work Together has topped the rest. Not only was this a hands on experience in which I actually was able to see the difference the work was making, it was also amazing to see so many people so thrilled about WWT's presence. At the end of our workshops, the young women would be hugging us (a few crying) because they were all so grateful for our presence and assistance. I could never adequately express how profound and valuable this experience was. In a place where women are rarely, if ever, told they are valuable and crucial to society, WWT is greatly helping to change the dynamics of gender. Women Work Together is an incredible organization with astounding people. This organization is proof that we all can make a difference.

Felicity H.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am both a donor and a volunteer. I've been involved with several organizations that support women's empowerment in various ways, and WWT is a standout in the way that it opens opportunities for girls and women by encouraging them to make the most of their own strengths. WWT has made effective partnerships with local officials and organizations -- the local officials had helped women to organize themselves in groups to effect more powerful change in their communities, and WWT is helping girls and women to take advantage of that opportunity. By working with teens, WWT is helping girls see that their futures are in their own hands.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I know the people in Women Work Together (WWT), and I have watched the organization develop since it's inception. They are a truly wonderful group of people doing fabulous grassroots work with women and girls in Guatemala. If you speak Spanish and are interested in volunteer work in Latin America, this is a great organization to work with. It's an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of women and girls in Guatemala. And if you are not in a position to be a hands on volunteer, but are looking for quality, grassroots organizations to support, then WWT is a great place to invest your financial resources.

Ellen K.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I went to San Pedro with WWT last March (2010). As someone who has traveled a good deal in Latin America, I can tell you the work they are doing is pretty unique. By partnering with a local government committed to changing the lives of rural indigenous women and girls, WWT is able provide real empowerment tools and make leaders of the women and girls they train. In a few short years, they have been able to touch so many lives, providing concrete ways for local people to visualize a different future and change their communities.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began my work with Women Work Together (Mujeres Trabajan Unidas) more than two years ago as the organization's very first volunteer. To say that my experience with the organization has exceeded my expectations would be an understatement. Not only does the drive and savvy of the team push me and motivate me as a volunteer, but the amazing results touch my heart in ways other volunteer experiences haven't come close. After the last leadership institute, I had numerous mother's approach me near tears saying how grateful they are for everything we've done and how they are happy their daughters are given an opportunity to grow in ways that they were never able to.The founders identified a real need not only in Guatemala but also in the development field in general and I am confident that the organization will continue to grow.

I am now halfway through my first year of law school and just spent my spring break volunteering for the organization a second time. Although the days I spent there were hard work and I can't say that I managed to make up sleep like many of my classmates, I can say I was rejuvenated in a different way. There is a lesson innately different in seeing leadership power, ideas, and confidence grow than in studying how it grows in school. At the institute we are constantly impressed with how thoughtful girls are with their ideas about fostering community growth and how they can be a part of it. Most of all, I think the girls are impressed with themselves and with each other...making the experience more memorable for the girls and the leadership community self-thriving. The girls aren't the only one's who are changed after the institutes...these experiences motivate me through any given school day and will also motivate me throughout my career.