Our model is proven in rural Guatemala and applicable in impoverished rural communities worldwide. When women are empowered to catalyze change in their families and communities, those who depend on them grow up healthy, well-nourished, and literate. Here’s how:
Interested mothers, grandmothers, and caregivers sign up and begin attending classes and workshops in their community facilitated by Mil Milagros staff. In communities where women rarely have opportunities to lead or to work outside the home, promising mother and grandmother program participants are approached by staff members about becoming Mother Leaders: volunteer workshop facilitators and program assistants. We train these Mother Leaders in leadership, teamwork, public speaking, nutrition, and health/hygiene so they can assist full-time staff and begin to build leadership skills, and they receive a stipend for supporting workshops and home visits.
Promising Mother Leaders are recruited to become full-time, salaried staff members called Community Coordinators. In their first year of a three-year contract, Community Coordinators are enrolled in the Leadership Academy where they receive intensive training and mentorship from a dedicated team of staff members in skills like public speaking, facilitating discussions, working in teams, and decision-making. They learn the ins and outs of Mil Milagros’ Early Childhood Development, Health, and Education programs and work to assist program staff in the field as they carry out program objectives.
Community Coordinators in year 2 and above are placed in a team of Community Coordinators working in one of 3 community-based programs (Early Childhood Development, Education, Health) to deliver results. Community Coordinators who show outstanding performance have the opportunity to be promoted, and are offered a more permanent contract beyond the three years of the Leadership Academy program. There are currently 19 former program participants now working as full-time staff, and 5 former Community Coordinators who have been promoted to Program Coordinators or Directors. Community Coordinators graduate from the Leadership Academy armed with the experience, technology, and leadership skills necessary to work beyond Mil Milagros, and the financial power to provide for their families, long-term.
In the region where Mil Milagros works, more than 70% of children under the age of five are chronically malnourished. This puts the children at risk for chronic learning problems and chronic disease. We provide pregnant and parenting women and children 0-3 years old with essential vitamins and nutritional supplements to help prevent malnutrition and stunting. Mothers acquire knowledge about nutrition, health, parenting, and child development in classes and workshops taught by full-time staff. Children at high risk of severe chronic malnutrition are referred for intensive intervention.
Staff co-teach a women’s health course to local mothers and caregivers and facilitate access to preventative healthcare and family planning counseling. Children receive hygiene supplies and access to clean drinking water at their schools. Student council members are trained to teach their classmates about the importance of eating healthy foods and practicing good hygiene to prevent illness. Children and their parents implement healthy habits at school and at home.
Guatemala has one of the lowest literacy rates in the Western Hemisphere. Schools in rural Guatemala often lack books and adequately trained teachers. Staff provide books and supplies to our partner schools and intensive, advanced literacy training to interested teachers in the whole municipality. Children complete the sixth grade literate, healthy, and prepared to continue their education.
We form strategic partnerships with other non-profit organizations to address pressing community needs outside of our immediate purview including health and dental care, construction of schools and homes, and access to water.
We rigorously evaluate our progress and impact. We track each child’s height and weight, school attendance, and reading performance. We measure mothers’ learning and conduct home visits to evaluate whether mothers’ new knowledge and skills are being put into practice. Learn More About Our Impact
Parents, teachers, students, and municipal government partners participate in focus groups twice a year to assess what is working and what needs to improve. The community evaluates progress toward our shared goals and whether each party followed through on their commitments. They celebrate successes and identify strategies to make improvements in the coming year.