Acompañamiento, solidaridad, confianza, comunicación abierta. These are words the Mil Milagros team uses daily to talk about our work. Because we’re a multilingual organization and our supporter community spans the globe, we’d like to try to bridge the geographical and linguistic gaps and break down what these words mean to our organization, our staff, and our communities in rural Guatemala:
Acompañar (vtr): take, accompany, walk with someone, see to, go with, share, feel, keep each other company.
For Mil Milagros, acompañamiento is the heart of our work: walking with our staff and communities and supporting them to the best of our ability. Whether that’s encouraging women as they grow from hesitant, shy program participants to confident, decisive, and informed leaders who facilitate discussions, teach other mothers, and manage staff members with care and respect, or being there for a partner school community like Nuevo Progreso as we work together across the years to change minds and habits and resolve infrastructure challenges. Rather than providing for or pushing our communities toward a specific solution, their needs and desires drive the direction of our organization. We walk with them as they work to achieve their own goals for themselves and their communities.
Solidaridad (nf): solidarity, unity, loyalty, sympathy, togetherness.
Solidaridad is a word staff use often to describe the relationship they have with each other, and that Mil Milagros has with the communities it serves. Solidaridad means being there for people when they need it–making sure everyone has what they need so that we can all move forward together. That’s why our programs are intervention-focused, to make sure as many people as possible have the access they deserve to critical health information, quality education, parenting and early childhood support, malnutrition prevention, and clean water. Mil Milagros leaders are community members who show up every day in solidarity to build better lives and communities for themselves and their families, neighbors, and friends.
But solidarity goes beyond our organization: we understand that what happens in rural Guatemala has global repercussions, and we believe that showing up for our communities in Guatemala is an act of solidarity toward the collective human community. We value all members of our organization, our donor base, and the communities we serve. We recognize that everyone has something to offer, and that we’re all working together toward the same goal.
Comunicación abierta (n): open communication, transparency, connection.
Open communication might sound like a strange phrase in English, but it’s a phrase our staff uses often in Spanish to describe how they build trust, set expectations, and show respect. Transparency and open communication are central to our relationships with each other, and with our supporters, partner organizations, and communities. We embrace difficult conversations at all levels: we regularly solicit feedback from partner organizations, community leaders, parents, participants, and teachers to make sure that we can work towards shared goals. If something isn't working, we want to know, and we’re always looking for ways to adapt and grow.
Confianza (nf): confidence, faith, trust, familiarity.
Confianza doesn’t just mean trust–it means that you can have faith, count on something or someone, and be confident that they’ll show up or follow through. We take the trust of our communities very seriously, and we strive to be good stewards of that trust: so much of our approach focuses on buy-in from families and community leaders. Our relationships in Sololá run deep, not just because we’ve made an effort to bring community leaders on board, but because community members have seen that our staff continue to show up for them, and continue to deliver on the promise of change for their families and themselves.
That trust also applies to our relationship with donors: we strive to be as transparent as possible in terms of our goals, our financials, our programs and operations, and we hope that in doing so we can also earn their trust. We also ask donors to trust us to pursue our mission in a way that prioritizes community needs first.
We hope you learned a few new meanings to Spanish words we commonly use, but Spanish isn’t the only language our communities speak! Explore how our K’iche-speaking leaders help build community trust by teaching women’s health classes in their native language, and sharing openly about their COVID-19 vaccine experience. Learn some K’iche from our leaders, or explore the geography of Indigenous languages in Guatemala.
Interested in joining our global community of like-minded, passionate supporters? Become a Mil Milagros Amigo.
“I love seeing the light turn on for the mothers and for them to make changes at home. They start to pay more attention to how they are raising their children or what the hygiene is like in the home.”
Maya women are the most marginalized group in Guatemala. Compared to all other groups in Guatemala, Maya women are almost three times as likely to live in extreme poverty. They have fewer years of schooling, shorter lifespans, and higher maternal mortality rates than their non-indigenous counterparts.