Spanish Marks has been working alongside the charity Asociación Fatima for two years. During this time we have been able to observe the organisation and get a good insight as to why they exist. Over the last month the charity has been making some big changes. To start with they have elected new members for the board of directors in which I have also been invited to sit on. There are many reasons as to why these changes are occuring and why we want to carry on helping them.
The charity was formed in 1988 to help various communities around Western Guatemala. For 20 years, Asociación Fatima’s principle source of income came from the organisation Child Fund. The donations allowed them to implement effective programs in education and health. However, after 20 years the funds stopped and almost immediately Asociación Fatima lost its main source of income.
Why Support Asociación Fatima?
Reading that brief history one might ask why help Asociación Fatima? Surely, it was a big oversight on their part to not plan for the future and instead only rely on one major donor! Therefore, why not support another charity that has a better strategy?
Well we have two main reasons as to why we have been supporting Asociación Fatima and want to continue working with them:
When the funds ceased many of Asociación Fatima’s staff understandably left. However, there were a few who stayed on to help the members of the communities. For more then 5 years they have been working without receiving an income in order to make sure the organisation survives and is relevant.
Proof that Asociación Fatima is still effective is the mere fact that they have maintained strong relationships with the people of the communities and other governmental and non-governmental bodies. For example, local leaders trust the organisation and are responsive when projects are implemented in their communities. Doctors from abroad and Guatemala prefer working with Asociación Fatima in order to set up free clinics for those in need. These relationships cannot be forged overnight and are essential when trying to help. This showing Asociación Fatima is still important to many people.
When Asociación Fatima was receiving financial aid they managed to purchase their building and other important assets. Therefore, they have the resources to work effectively as a charity. It is a lack of personnel which really impedes the organisation from helping to its maximum potential. This is also a reason as to how they could function for many years without receiving many donations.
There is a huge potential for the charity to really help! If the organisation were to completely fold then all its assets would go to the government instead of being used to better the lives of many people.
What now for Asociación Fatima?
The stark reality is that Asociación Fatima is needed! The organisation is based in an area where chronic mal-nutrition and levels of poverty are extremely high. The charity has few dedicated personnel and its own resources. However, it is not providing support to its maximum potential.
As mentioned above the organisation has recently elected a new dynamic and diverse board of directors. The responsibility of the board is to make sure the organisation has better-structured programs and a more defined direction. As well, to learn from the mistakes made in the past. Ultimately, the developments taking place should benefit the members of the communities Asociación Fatima serves.