Created and supported by the Women’s Wellbeing and Development Foundation/Bien de Mujer (WWDF/Bien de Mujer), Granos Soldarios seeks to empower women living in the slums of San Jose, Costa Rica, to utilize their economic, social, intellectual, and spiritual potential to achieve personal growth and the integrated development of their communities. Granos Soldarios began as one small group of women, mostly living in La Carpio, gathering to pull their economic and personal resources together to make sure all their families had food to eat and to address emergency needs.
Over the past few years, this single group of dedicated women has bloomed into two groups of women: currently, 63 women living in La Carpio and 35 women from San Juan de Dios, an equally poor neighborhood in San Jose. The majority of these women are unemployed, single parent, refugees from Nicaragua; with low levels of education and large families. Several of the women are living with HIV and other chronic diseases.
Operating like a co-operative, for 8,500 colones ($17 USD) a month, each Granos Solidarios member gets 10kg of rice, 1 liter of oil, 3 kg of beans, 2 kg of sugar, and 250 gr of coffee for their family, per month. In the event that a Granos Solidarios member is unable to meet the group monthly food investment of 8,500 colones, the other women chip in to help.
In addition to pulling their economic resources together for food, the women have created a peer support group; actively fundraise for emergency family expenses; and have started their own businesses: making and selling tamales, and selling second-hand clothes. The women’s groups also regularly participate in life skills, parenting skills and health education workshops organized by WWDF/Bien de Mujer, and they voluntarily assist with WWDF/Bien de Mujer’s Ilori Children’s Education programs. (For example, Granos Solidarios prepared and distributed lunch to the 200+ guests at the Annual Children’s Christmas Party, last December—click here for photos of this amazing party!)
Each Granos Solidarios group has elected a peer leader and each group meets once a week: the La Carpio group meets every Friday at a member’s house, and the San Juan de Dios group meets every Thursday at Parque de la Paz. Ercy Mendez, a trained counselor and educator who works for WWDF/Bien de Mujer, oversees both groups. As soon as the women and children’s community playground and education center is ready, Granos Solidarios will be meeting and working out of the center in La Carpio.
This month, the women of Granos Soldarios are busy putting together an action plan for 2011. This plan will include workshops, starting some more group income-generation projects, and assisting in the renovations and development of the women and children’s community playground and education center in La Carpio. We will keep you posted!
For photos of the Granos Solidarios Christmas party, last December, please click here.
*If you have some talents or skills you would like to share with the Granos Soldarios, please do not hesitate to contact Ercy Mendez, at firstname.lastname@example.org . To contribute to the Granos Solidarios: http://www.wwd-f.org/help.html