Sou Digna / I Am Worthy Programs
Sou Digna provides women access to livelihoods that allow them to achieve a living wage. It organizes a variety of training programs in technology and baking, with classes taught by local professionals and community leaders. Sou Digna's first cohort of baking students have formed a cooperative, which meets regularly in Sou Digna space. Sessions run for ten weeks four times a year and are free to women, all of whom are from poor backgrounds.
Fundamental in all Sou Digna programs is education about human and legal rights; domestic violence; self defense; family planning; health; parenting and childcare options; how to apply for work; and government programs and services. Participants build a community that stays in contact after classes end. Some women sign up for every class offered because Sou Digna provides them a safe space that does not exist for them in their lives.
Access to Higher Education
Brazil’s rigorous university entrance exams often pose a significant hurdle to impoverished women. Sou Digna implements evening university-preparatory classes that provide academic preparation to women wanting to enter university. Once in university, women receive mentoring and support from university graduates.
Sou Digna's approach to poverty alleviation involves the building of individual and organizational capacity so that women and the organizations that serves them can be self reliant. Towards that end, Sou Digna in Brazil works collaboratively with its US partner to train local NGO staff members in organizational development and grant writing.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Sou Digna is the only grassroots NGO within Salvador focused on serving women, working integrally with an international partner to build capacity and foster a learning community. It was created in 2011 out of an initiative running for five years under the auspices of a different NGO, with leadership provided by Afro-Brazilian women who come from the communities being served.
The creation of a baking cooperative in 2012 represents the successful culmination of several aspects of Sou Digna's program. It demonstrates the high level of skill that these women gain through the training they receive from a professional baker. They apply this skill collectively, coming together to sell goods in the neighborhood. Their enhanced sense of self gives them the courage to meet with potential funders and explain their work to the community. Lastly, it draws on the computer skills that some of them receive through technology classes. They create business cards and posters advertising their work, and they use the Internet to communicate and gather information. The women plan to apply for a micro-loan in 2013 to expand their working space.
Sou Digna's currently needs 15 new computers to transition the Center's hardware to a next generation. It needs volunteers to support its English language program and its January work party. It is always looking to grow its community of individuals with an interest in locally-driven social change.