Guatemala: A Perspective Shift
Guatemala... not somewhere you would probably think I would go. From what you’ve seen and heard on the news, you probably wouldn’t want to visit either. Several folks messaged me last week wondering why I was there. In all honesty, 6 months ago, I wasn’t too keen on going myself. However, something told me to take a chance and see. I’m here to say, it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.
Let me give you a little back story on how and why Guatemala was chosen by LimeLife as a destination for our first annual Brighter Together Women’s Leadership Summit. Guatemala is one of four impoverished countries that the Brighter Together Foundation supports. The Brighter Together Foundation (BT) was established in 2017 and is led by LimeLife by Alcone sales directors and corporate officers. Each collection sold by a Beauty Guide in our field supports this foundation, as well as a one time donation made in honor of a Beauty Guide’s promotion to Senior Director.
I am proud to say that $5,000 was donated in my honor in January 2017. Bright Together passes 100% of our proceeds to Project Concern International (PCI) and in turn, 89% of PCI’s funds are used in the field for training and support. The foundation’s purpose is to foster the entrepreneurial spirit of women in the most impoverished societies around the world.
Brighter Together is a global partner of PCI’s Women Empowered (WE) Initiative. This savings-led micro-financing program teaches women to how to start and build a business, save their profits, partner with others to create community-led financing programs and become leaders in their communities. The process works by WE members pooling their own savings and making loans to one another. This is necessary because in many third world countries, women are still not allowed to open formal savings account due to illiteracy. PCI also trains these female entrepreneurs to become leaders in their communities. Statistics show that when women participate in an active WE group, it increases their power in household decision-making by 17%. This allows these women to better provide for their families’ health, education and lifestyles. Last week I was able to hear directly from some of the women in Guatemala whose lives have been transformed by our foundation.
Last July it was announced that any LimeLife Executive or Energizer Award Recipient would be eligible to attend the first Brighter Together Women’s Leadership Summit.
At first I was excited because it would mean traveling to a new place but then the fear of the unknown set in. In the media, we see all the stories of crime, refugees and not so pleasant things happening in places like Guatemala. My husband is very alert and aware of his surroundings, particularly when we travel, and as he knew this would be a girls’ trip, did not want me to go. Something though, kept telling me I needed to be there. After a quick call to my friend Kendall in February, we made it happen. Boy, am I glad!
To not only hear the stories of some of the women that our foundation has helped through PCI, but to meet share with them was an experience unlike any other. Regardless of where we are from, our language or culture, we as women all want the same things out of life. The pride and confidence that radiated from them when they spoke of not only their business accomplishments but also how their home situations have improved was incredible. For the first time, their husbands are seeing them as important members of their households. Their daughters are seeing a brighter future that includes owning a business and getting an education. The communities in which they live are listening to them and putting into action their ideas as they would any of their male counterparts. As Americans these things seem simple and often taken for granted, but the changes initiated by these women are creating a better future for all female residents of Guatemala.
Through our support of PCI’s work, we are teaching women how to fix the problem. Like the ancient Chinese saying goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” I know that my purpose here is far bigger than being able to offer professional cosmetics. It truly is about changing women’s lives through opportunity, either by becoming a part of this company or by supporting women like those I met last week. While I may have had a more personal or even selfish reason for starting this business, seeing how it has impacted so many people, most of whom I will never know, is a wonderful feeling.
To me this further proves that WE are the brand and This is the NOW!
We are Brighter Together!