Together We are Resilient: Collaboration between Colombia and Guatemala

15 January, 2023

Karen Munzón

Para español:


In a country of 17 million people where 75% are estimated to have anxiety disorders, there is only one psychologist for every 10,714 people. IsraAID Guatemala is working to address this issue through one of our tried and tested methods – training community workers. 

“Together We are Resilient” is IsraAID’s in-person course aimed at increasing the capacity of integral protection and psychosocial community workers in Guatemala, generating a wide network of support in especially vulnerable communities. But this wasn’t the first place we launched the course. As IsraAID Colombia’s Education and Protection Coordinator, I brought the training from my team in Colombia to my regional partners in Guatemala. I had the honor of working with Maria Ortiz, who coordinates IsraAID’s protection programs. 

Maria and I worked together to ensure the course was relevant to local and national needs. We focused on making sure that the context of Guatemalan culture and the humanitarian system was represented, including adding more Child Protection and resilience-building aspects. Thirty officials from the Education, Health, and Protection sectors participated in this two-week course, representing 15 governmental and private organizations that provide social services to the communities. 

Collaboration was key to the success of this course: Collaboration between IsraAID’s different missions, between the different levels and sectors of officials involved, and between people with different skill sets. Every participant in the ‘Together We are Resilient’ course shared case studies, stories, and skills, establishing cross-cutting support networks for people working with vulnerable communities. Simply put, everyone’s unique experience maximized the success of the training and eventual impact on the community.

Edna Bin Sis, coordinator of a shelter for survivors of sexual violence and trafficking told us that “This course is of vital importance for those of us who work with survivors, and especially strengthens my ability to support my team as a coordinator. The tools that we received, especially those of self-care and resilience, will be useful to my whole team, helping us to continue providing quality care to survivors in the shelter.” 

“The course offered the opportunity for professionals from across the spectrum to focus on child protection, benefitting from the dialogue between people with a range of experiences working to support children at risk,” Maria said. 

Our Protection teams in Colombia and Guatemala are stronger than ever, as individuals, as teams, and as a region. We’ve been learning from each other since the very first discussions about this collaboration. As I told my colleagues, the learning experience with the Guatemala team has been transformative on a personal and professional level. The culture, the beliefs, and the entire ecosystem of this cross-sectoral project are very enriching. I brought them back with me to our programs in Colombia. I am very happy and grateful for this opportunity, to be able to contribute my knowledge and to be welcomed by the Guatemala team. I am certain that we will continue working together to advance the sector across the region.

In both Colombia and Guatemala, and in the future hopefully more countries across the Latin American and Caribbean region, this cross-regional approach strengthens all of us.

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