Welcoming Back Lisa Green: a Heartfelt Reunion after Six Years
Lisa Green is a certified financial planner who specializes in empowering women through credit access, and is one of the founders of our Adelante education program. She worked with us in Honduras to develop lessons, trainings, and best practices from 2003 to 2009. Last week I had the opportunity to meet the spirited, warmhearted Lisa during her return to La Ceiba. After six years, she had come back to learn more about how the lessons have evolved, and to get back into the field to reunite with the women who inspired the program. One woman in particular stuck out to her, and before her arrival to Honduras she made a point to request I track down this client’s assembly. Her name is Doña Blanca, and Lisa describes her best with just three words, “She’s a force.”
In our original education model, a client from each assembly was chosen to deliver the education lessons, and Blanca was the designated educator for her assembly years ago, for which she received training on business administration at the local Adelante office. On the ride to the field, Lisa regaled me with stories of Doña Blanca’s animated teaching style. During one lesson on saving, she reached into her apron pocket for a small handful of rice and showed it to her group, declaring, “This is your emergency rice.” Doña Blanca urged her fellow entrepreneurs to always consider how to fit in economic decision making into their everyday lives.
While I had found her assembly, I wasn’t sure of her address. We asked Albertina, a longtime Adelante entrepreneur who sells secondhand clothing nearby, to help us on our mission to find Doña Blanca’s home. As we hiked the dirt pathways, Lisa commented on the how communities outside of the city manage their finances and investments. “The chicken is the CD. The pig is the mutual fund,” she noted.
We received warm greetings from everyone we passed, and four more women graciously joined to guide us to Doña Blanca. “We’ve started a parade,” Lisa laughed. Finally, after crossing a small river and trekking up a steep dirt trail, we found Doña Blanca. After a six year hiatus, she and Lisa were delighted to reunite and bring each other up to speed.
Doña Blanca began her career as an entrepreneur nine years ago selling spices. Today, she has been able to follow her passion for teaching and put her earlier experience as an Adelante educator to daily use. Though growing up she never had the opportunity to complete her own formal schooling, she uses her acquired teaching skills to work with a local religious non-profit to provide lessons in her community. In the mornings she teaches kindergarten and in the afternoon she teaches adult literacy classes. At night she helps give lessons to high school students. She is also working on a community project to build showers and collect towels and fresh clothing for the children. “This way they are clean and presentable when they get to school.” As an empowered woman, Doña Blanca has thrived at empowering others in her community, too.
“I have so much respect for Doña Blanca. She is a natural leader. It is so important to continue having group leaders and to hear their opinions to help find solutions in these communities,” Lisa said.
Our education program has evolved a great deal since Lisa was here last. Now the bulk of the program focuses on business administration with a few pertinent health lessons each year. We have also offered product innovation workshops through support from our long-time partner Women’s Empowerment International, as well as a health workshop last year that was done in partnership with Marie Stopes Honduras. In 2014 we received support from Honduras’ microfinance network (REDMICROH) to offer specialized financial education lessons to further develop client’s financial literacy. Since we launched the education program with Lisa’s support, we have evolved our program in response to the unique needs of the communities we serve.
If it weren’t for Lisa and our original team of educators, we would not be where we are today. With dedication, warm-heartedness, and fervor, Lisa has contributed immensely to improving lives of women and their families through education across Honduras.