Something amazing is happening in Rosa’s community in the Dominican Republic and it’s transforming lives of the women right now.
Rosa is president of the Mother’s Union in Loma de Cabrera, a rural town in one of the poorest areas of the Dominican Republic. The local people are resourceful but face economic challenges caused by a combination of a lack of jobs and a culture discouraging women from learning and working. Her Mother’s Union supports women to empower themselves and gain independence so they can challenge and overcome the barriers of poverty, and help the community to stand on their own feet.
Progressio partnered with the Mother’s Union to provide the women with training on managing their finances. After the training they set up Savings and Credit Cooperative of Women Entrepreneurs of the Border - a cooperative that lends a hand helping women create an income for themselves and support each other in saving for their futures. It is the first of its kind in the country created and managed by women!
Since it started a year ago, a variety of small businesses have emerged. The women are now independent for the first time, sending their children to school and giving their families a brighter future.
In the Dominican Republic, Progressio partners with a local organisation, Solidaridad Fronteriza, to provide training for the women. Progressio believe in people powered development; helping people to work themselves out of poverty, for good. Training includes lessons on how to grow food gardens, rear chickens, sell at the market and manage finances and small start-up loans. Not only are the women’s projects creating lasting growth in their communities, they are also changing the perception of women by empowerment.
One particular small business that began in March has been a real success for the Mother’s Union. Mamá Guilla is a line of handmade household goods, named after the Union’s founder Rosa, and includes cleaning and washing products, beauty and healthcare supplies, handcrafts and cooking condiments.
Initially 22 women were trained to create these products and given a small loan to get started. They in turn, shared these resources and took the responsibility to train more women in the Union, who then also joined the project. Together with Eduardo, a Progressio development worker, they established Mamá Guilla as a self sustaining brand, reinvesting all profits into the development of the community to help more women and their families take control of their own futures.
One of the women, Heroina, told us how the project turned her life around. “My husband died in December 2008 and my mother in January 2014. I soon became depressed. I forgot I was living.” Selling Mamá Guilla products helped Heroina support her family and access healthcare, she says “my family used to be sick a lot, but because of the Union, everything got resolved. I am really benefiting and I give thanks to God for this help that came to my town.”
There is great potential for transforming the lives of many more women in the Dominican Republic. As women in the Mother’s Union strive to control their own destinies, their efforts have a ripple effect throughout their communities - improving health, education and economic opportunities for other families.
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