NOW is a GREAT time to DONATE!
All donations to this project will be matched, doubling your donation & impact!
Since 1998, Friendship Bridge has been empowering women in rural Guatemala to build a better life with microcredit, education, and health services. Friendship Bridge's clients are strong and resourceful but geographically marginalized, living in isolated regions with inadequate transportation.
During the COVID-19 crisis, it has become even more difficult for Friendship Bridge staff to travel to women’s homes to deliver their services and programs. With strict travel restrictions in place and safety concerns at the forefront of their decision making, the organization has been obliged to quickly transition to remote operations.
Miraculously, Friendship Bridge has continued serving women in rural Guatemala in creative ways throughout the crisis. During the months of April and May, they restructured all micro-loans to offer their clients grace periods and reduced interest rates. Soon after, they implemented a telehealth program, launched an online intranet for staff collaboration, and made hundreds of educational phone calls.
However, the containment orders in Guatemala have had a direct and negative impact on the ability of women in the program to earn income, feed their families, and repay their loans.
The SOLUTIONS WE'RE PROPOSING
Your donation supports Friendship Bridge so they can continue providing the following services to more than 32,000 women in Guatemala during the COVID-19 crisis:
- Access to Healthcare: Friendship Bridge’s Health for Life program specifically addresses preventive health care challenges that their clients most commonly face. Their female nurses provide culturally-sensitive exams, consultations, and other services, spoken in their clients’ indigenous languages. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Friendship Bridge recently launched a telehealth model to serve women by phone to discuss symptoms and address concerns as needed.
- Economic Opportunities: Most of the women served by Friendship Bridge are small business owners, making their money as artisans, tienda owners, or farmers. Even during the pandemic, Friendship Bridge is in good communication with their clients by phone, offering them business solutions, and details on their existing microloans to help keep them afloat. Using a series of information videos sent on WhatsApp, their staff is instructing women on how to continue selling their handmade goods and produce safely in their community to continue earning an income and saving.
- Access to Education: Nonformal education is the backbone of Friendship Bridge’s programming. With over 170 staff in Guatemala who are now limited in travel each month by foot, boat, bus, or motorbike, the staff now utilizes phone calls to teach topics like health, women’s rights, family, and business. The educational curriculum is unique and responsive to clients’ needs, taking into consideration that the average Friendship Bridge client has only 3.4 years of formal education, and does not read, write, or speak Spanish, Guatemala’s official language.
THE IMPACT OF YOUR GIVING
Friendship Bridge has already heard stories from women in Guatemala about the impact of their support during this time. “I am so grateful to Friendship Bridge because I have received calls to encourage me, to continue advising me on the prevention measurements that the government has indicated,” said Jessica, 27. Jessica is married, a mother of two children, and a Friendship Bridge client since 2017. She expressed hardships she is now facing in her community regarding rising prices of basic food and necessities and a lack of business opportunities due to closures of public transportation and markets. “Several women like me are weavers and embroiderers. Now we have nowhere to sell our products. I have finished 3 huipiles already, but I cannot leave my neighborhood to go deliver to my clients because there are police who are watching,” she said. “Friendship Bridge has given me solutions for my next payments. God bless you all and please take care of yourself because together we will succeed.”
WHY FUND US?
For the 8th year in a row, our partner Women’s WorldWide Web (W4) is supporting women in Guatemala by generously matching all donations to Friendship Bridge up to $20k from June 15-July 15! That means your gift doubles in value at a time when the women in our programs need it most.
Your donation helps make transformative change in the lives of women in Guatemala. Friendship Bridge clients learn how to manage their businesses and invest in their families, thus securing better and healthier futures for themselves and their children. By donating to Friendship Bridge, you are part of the solution to ending poverty - even during this COVID-19 crisis.
An important partner since 2012, W4 supports access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities for Friendship Bridge’s clients. W4 is the first online collaborative platform worldwide dedicated to promoting girls' & women’s empowerment worldwide.