Bolivia self-help groups provide space for healing
January 17, 2011
By Henry Flores, director of communications in El Salvador
CFCA´s Hope for a Family program offers tools for families to be active participants in creating their own unique paths toward reaching their potential.
Eufronia Taquichiri, project coordinator in Cochabamba, Bolivia, had the opportunity to visit the CFCA project in Hyderabad, India, to learn more about how mothers groups there are empowering women and families.
"It was amazing to see how women in the CFCA project, in spite of the obstacles to women´s participation in society, have been able to start a process of development and liberation from these obstacles through the creation of mothers groups and a micro-finance program," Taquichiri said.
The Hope for a Family program is not a one-size-fits-all program. The visit to India opened Taquichiri´s eyes to the great potential for creating a similar model in Bolivia, but customizing it to the Bolivian reality of women, children and families.
"After my visit, I realized that in order to empower women and their families, we must find ways to enable their full participation in their own social and economic development,” she said. “Self-help family groups were a different way to use the India model, having the mother as the pillar of the family, but offering this chance for other members in the family besides the mother. This is helping us to create stronger families, generating a chain reaction in the community and contributing to its overall development."
After almost two years, positive results are visible. Mothers in the self-help family group "Renacer" are feeling empowered and hopeful toward the future.
"We have been saving for some time and hopefully, very soon, we will be able to access a small loan from our own funds," said Santusa, a member of the group. "Plans and goals are already being created by the mothers in my group. I am planning to open a little store."
These groups also provide space for members to share their problems, hear others’ experiences, advise each other and feel supported in their heroic mission as mothers.
"When I grew up, I didn't have the support of my parents," said Marta, a member of Renacer. "They did not care about my education. After sharing these feelings with the group, I went back home with my heart at peace. I don't want to make the same mistakes my parents did, which were painful to me for so long."
Taquichiri grew up in the mining communities of Bolivia and obtained a master’s degree in social development. She has great hopes and dreams for the women in the Cochabamba project.
"I hope the women here in Cochabamba can consolidate their groups and microfinance activities, create income-generating initiatives, and have full participation in their communities and society," she said. "These women should not be sentenced to poverty, be limited by the lack of education or have an unsteady income. They can overcome."