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8/19/2011

Saving Together to Build Better Lives

International

Saving Together to Build Better Lives

The villages in the Dolores Hidalgo area of central Mexico are inhabited mostly by women and children.

“We have no husbands or sons,” said one woman, an adult learner from La Cantera. The village is one of 21 communities served by Proyectos ProLiteracy de la Alfabetización, América Central (PLAMAC), ProLiteracy’s partner in Guanajuato, Mexico.

Most of the community’s men and boys travel north to the United States in search of jobs. Some men are able to find work and send money home to support their families in la Cantera, but others aren’t so fortunate. Many families are left to suffer without them, intensifying the economic hardship already felt in the area.

Forced to explore financial alternatives, the women in la Cantera have found unity during the crisis by forming a savings club. The clubs, coordinated by PLAMAC, are the first step in the gradual process of economic empowerment for these women.

Savings create the foundation for future economic and community projects, including the development of small businesses. Club participants meet weekly to make deposits, discuss pressing community issues, and assist one another in literacy instruction. The money is kept in a lockbox, which has come to symbolize the solidarity and strength of these women.

“I am excited because we are learning from what we already know, and we are learning to do new things too,” said Margarita, a savings club participant.

For more than 25 years, PLAMAC has supported rural communities in the state of Guanajuato through grassroots literacy and community development projects.

PLAMAC continues to empower women in six communities with the skills to make decisions, create strategies for economic self-sufficiency, and gain the confidence to exercise their rights. Literacy has become a tool in the development of other vital skills like communication, critical thinking, problem solving and community participation.

Together, PLAMAC and the women of la Cantera are building a brighter future for their families and communities.

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