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“I’m a

leader now”

A spontaneous smile appears on Ana Sagastume’s face when talking about her community, Los Lirios, which she describes as: “A beautiful place to live… here, women support one another, which is hard to find in other places”. This was partially a result of the work done by the Nurturing the Future Project for the past 6 years in the township of Masagua, Escuintla.

Ana recognizes that it has not been easy to fully join the project because there are still unequal gaps between men and women. “I didn’t use to go before. Even if I was invited to a training session, I would hardly ever go because we had been taught that women were not supposed to leave their houses. My husband used to tell me: ‘no, don’t work, just stay at home’, so that’s what I did”. 

Little by little, and thanks to the support of other women from her community, Ana started attending the meetings being carried out. “I liked what I was learning, so I started inviting my sisters-in-law as well”. 

The trainings have turned into the seeds that those women need to be empowered in different environments. “If CARE had not brought the Nurturing the Future Project we would still live like before; I wouldn’t have resumed my studies, and my children would probably suffer from malnutrition. There wouldn’t be a change. I got empowered because I would not miss a meeting, and I was always the first one attending because I was very interested in learning. Now, when I attend the gatherings, my husband says: ‘I’ll stay’ or ‘Find

someone to look after the kids’, so that I can participate, but nothing would stop me from going,” Ana says.

The autonomy and community participation reinforce the commitment women make to improve their life conditions. “I’m a leader. I work together with 4 women, who are in charge of other women, to whom they distribute the information sent to me from Nurturing the Future. For example, they could inform me that we will all gather in my house to cook something healthy. During my first years, I was part of the learning system, but for the past three years, I have been the leader of the women who go to CARE”. 

This experience has created in Ana a positive and visionary attitude. “If a woman is being abused, I want to defend her. At a given time, I was helped, so I now want to help others. Sometimes we think that the rights don’t exist, but they do, and I want women to learn and to change. My dream is to get a law degree”.  

Ana is no longer that women who used to stay at home. Today, she is not only a leader from the Nurturing the Future project, but also a community leader. 

“After becoming a leader in CARE’s group, I also joined the Community Development Council (COCODE) in Los Lirios village”. 

In that sense, and from her leadership position, Ana expresses her thoughts and dreams with such a clarity that she can encourage other women. “You can also hold the same power we do, because that is the only thing our community is missing. I want us to maintain that chain where women can also get ahead and start new goals towards a better future, and with a different perspective towards the men and women in the country”. 

In Los Lirios, the times are changing, and women are the protagonists in the transformation of its reality and of its community environment.