Over the past seven years, our organization has watched as time and time again young girls with great potential fell into a cycle that has impeded their family’s ability to achieve financial stability, gain an education, and thrive: teenage pregnancy. We had seen it year after year but when two sisters that our organization had watched grow up both gave birth to their first-born children last summer, the reality hit home. HOPE’S IN knew at that moment, we needed to do something to let them know that people still believed in them and wanted to empower them to fight for their future.
Fortaleza aims to use culturally appropriate, evidence-based tools and resources that help with pregnancy prevention. Moreover, our hope is that Fortaleza also provides a support system and access to counseling for these young girls as they navigate adolescence in communities marked by gang activity, violence, and crime.
Fortaleza is in it’s pilot year and we have big dreams for its impact. We hope Fortaleza will grow to be a place that empowers young women and mothers from all walks of life to learn vocational skills and find dignified ways to support their family outside work in the Guatemala City garbage dump.
Currently, Fortaleza meets bi-weekly in a local warehouse. The program is coordinated and facilitated by a local leader, Katie Rosales. For the first seven months of the program, we are going through a curriculum developed by a Guatemalan nonprofit, Iniciativa Guatemala, that discusses a range of topics dealing with healthy relationships and reproductive health. We are also having important discussions about goal setting and giving the girls the opportunity to provide input and articulate what challenges and topics they want to tackle together.