Photograph of several guatemalan woman in traditional dress, one woman from El Salvador, and one woman from the United States.

ESPERA

A Decade of Hope: Celebrating 10 Years of the ESPERA Program

From the beginning, we knew that unlike other micro-lending programs, we wanted to create a feminist model of community lending, which measures success by the effects the program has on women, their communities, their well-being and economic autonomy, not merely profits and repayment rates.

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Photograph of the writer of the article with ESPERA women in El Salvador.

ESPERA

ESPERA: The Reason I Support Mary’s Pence

I had the privilege of attending that first emotional health retreat in La Palma, El Salvador, in 2017 and meet the women who attended from all over Central America. I was so proud of Mary’s Pence as I heard one woman after another thank our organization for its caring accompaniment.

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Photograph of all the women of Virignia community, one woman holds a baby.

ESPERA

Visiting ESPERA women in the remote village of Virignia, Guatemala

I applaud Gilda’s work and her commitment to traveling hours upon hours from Mexico to go to the communities that are the most out of the way and forgotten in Guatemala to encourage and work with the women on increasing their economic status.

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Salvadoran woman wearing a light blue apron sits on the edge of a hammock. Behind her in the hammock a toddler lays drinking a bottle.

ESPERA

Salvadoran Women’s Will to Thrive

Ambrosia explained what they learned from this experience, “We have definitely learned to be more careful with the time we set for our loans, and at the same time we are grateful to have access to these funds.” The commitment they feel towards the community of women who participate in their local ESPERA community lending pool is very powerful and helps Ambrosia and her daughters not to give up.

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A middle aged woman smiles broadly, she is standing in front of a wall painted in bright colors in the traditional salvadoran style.

ESPERA

Emotional Health and Healing: a New Journey for the ESPERA Program

An increase in violent gang activity over the past several years, thanks in part to US deportation policy, has lead to an atmosphere of fear. These stressors, in addition to the hardship that rural women living in poverty inherently experience, have led many ESPERA women to experience anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress.

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Several people sit outside on chairs with the Temazcal (steam bath) in the background.

ESPERA

Rescuing the Temazcal Tradition

The temazcal is a place for purification and rebirth; it is a point of connection between human beings and the transcendent—but also with the others. Songs and prayers may be part of the ritual which builds bonds of harmony and mutual support.

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Photograph of the seven women leaders of Concera standing outside their building.

ESPERA

Opening Our Wings to Fly: Strengthening Organizations for Sustainable Change

A strong organization will help amplify women’s voices, respond to community needs, and be a sustainable community resource. This structure is a key component of success for individual women in the ESPERA program. It’s what makes us confident that the social and economic empowerment ESPERA women experience will be long lasting. By investing in the capacity of our organizational partners we are investing in sustainable change.

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A group of eight women, two white, the rest latina, stand with their arms around one another smiling.

ESPERA

More Than Micro-Lending: Mental Health Support for ESPERA Women

Each woman was to set three goals that she wanted to be held accountable for: take a step toward self-care, improve family relationships, and expand available resources, which could improve their businesses.

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A letter from the President of Concertacion de Mujeres de Suchitoto to Mary's Pence. thanking them for all of their support in the last 30 years.

ESPERA

Oldest ESPERA Partner Expresses Gratitude for Mary’s Pence

Since 1991, the Contertación de Mujeres has been dedicated to the “acompanimiento” of women confronting violence. We know in our very bodies how difficult it is to give birth to an organization and evolve with it.

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Isabel, a middle aged woman stands proudly in front of a chicken coop full of chickens.

ESPERA

A Progression of Changes for ESPERA Women in El Salvador

At first, the women were nervous to take out loans. Because they had not had previous experience with lending, the women were worried that they would not be able to pay the loans back.

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