Social work with women is another section of the Intercultural-Social-Spiritual Department (DISE). Strategic Planning 2040 defined the following goal as one of the objectives for the Intercultural-Social-Spiritual Department: "Women actively participate in the community and socio-economic area."
The work with the indigenous women began soon after the first contact between the German-Mennonite immigrants and the indigenous people. In 1973, the ASCIM officially included this department in its program. The department started with visiting the indigenous women, offering Bible study courses and practical instructions for home and family. At first, the indigenous women reacted skeptically, but after a while, they independently began to organize courses for their communities.
The village elected female leaders in charge of these courses, and they asked for help raising their teenage girls. In 1984, a Training School for housekeeping was opened, which offered classes until 1998. The school was located in the center of the community of Campo Alegre. It had several classrooms and a residence for the students. For various reasons, this school in Campo Alegre had to be closed. The aim was to provide practical lessons for home and family for the girls in the 4th to 9th grade, which to this day is part of the school subject "Work and Technology". At the same time (1984), the Health Program founded the CEMINUREPE program (Maternal and Child Center for Nutrition and Preschool) due to many cases of malnutrition in the communities, which later was part of the Women's Social Work program for many years. The program changed over time, and today it is a separate area of the DISE nder the name "Early Childhood Education".
Considering the main objetive mentioned above, the ASCIM works with women in the following areas:
1. Training on various topics that are of interest to the women of the communities:
We organize short, interactive, and practical training courses to teach the women of the communities about these topics. The leader of the village/community helps us with the organization, and classes are held in the communities so that they do not need to travel far.
The training courses take place on the same day of the week for three weeks in a row for 2 to 3 hours per day. We try to offer translation into the native language of the participants to ensure better understanding. At the end of the training course, the participants can evaluate the training course. On this occasion, the women can also share if they are interested in learning about other topics. At the moment, we offer two training courses, and they can choose which one they would like to attend:
- Financial Education (financial goal, income, outflow, savings, budget, cash).
- Raising children between the ages of 0 to 10 years
Other topics of interest for the future are household chores and planting a vegetable garden.
3. Coordination and accompaniment of sewing training with a professional seamstress:
a) In the community of Campo Alegre and the center of Yalve Sanga, sewing workshops have been prepared and equipped with everything necessary to offer basi training in sewing. Women can sign up for this training course, which has a duration of 8 to 9 months:
- They come for one full day per week.
- They pay a monthly fee to practice with an electric sewing machine and receive all sewing materials.
- The women can take the things they made in the course home for their use or sell them.
- They receive a certificate at the end of the course.
b) We also offer sewing modules with specific themes that last eight to ten weeks. These are offered in the different villages of the indigenous communities that collaborate with the ASCIM. There are five sewing machines available that the teachers can take to the communities to teach the courses. The women participating in these courses pay a small fee. The method for these courses is the following: one day a week, a group of 5 women has classes for 4 hour in the morning and another group of 5 women in the afternoon.
These courses have a duration of 8 to 10 weeks.
c) In these sewing modules, we cooperate with the 2KP Foundation, based in Limpio - Central Department of Paraguay, which provides the curriculum and rents us sewing machines.
3. Support at women retreats and bible studies:
The communities elect a female leader to represent them in some meetings or assemblies.
From the ASCIM, we organize a retreat in 6 different locations because of the distance and the diverse ethnicities. These reagional retreats are organized every second year. The topics and speakers are chosen according to their suggestions.
In many places, the women organize meetings or biblical weeks with the women of the community during the winter vacations or weekly during the second semester. Depending on interest and availability, we try to provide teaching/study materiales for these meetings in their native languages.