Empowering Women in Guatemala - The story of Lys

Integral Heart co-founders
Debora Prieto and Mick Quinn
seen here with Lys Flores,
SEA project director in
San Mateo (read more below
about her project).

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The 'Radio Kids' from the
Scheel Center during a live
Blog Talk Radio show.

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There is a great blog about 
our work here that was
written by Jessica Roemischer

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On the air with the Radio
Team from The Scheel Center.

Integral - Fourth Quadrant
: The 'Its' / Systems

Blanca Lysmenia Flores (Lys) is the director of
the project Semilla de Esperanza y Amor 
(Seed of Hope and Love) located in San Mateo Milpas Altas, Guatemala. She is a strong and compassionate leader in a world here that is dominated by men. Even though her background

is in education; she had never thought about being the principal of her own education based non-profit, she thought even less about running the business side of such a project.

When we first met Lys in 2010, Mick and I were volunteering for another local
non-profit, CasaSito. They asked us to offer Lys some business training and
coaching. The idea was to help her grow from a little project with just one
classroom and a small office, into a much bigger and brand new location
several classrooms, a computer laboratory, a library, a kitchen, a dining room and a large play area for the children.

Lys was eager to learn, but what we found out in the course of our work with her was that she was unable to see herself being able to run the new location because of fear. She was really stuck. After several months of business coaching and structure building we realized that if the container, the human being, wasn’t ready to hold all the heat of this new transition, there might be a chance that the whole project was going to crash at some point.

In response to this, Debora began doing Big Mind with Lys, working on the voice of fear, to allow it to be present and to share its wisdom. Mick also led Lys through some visualization exercises so that she could see herself as the empowered director of the new project building, as well as a lot of work on financial planning, hiring, staff management, delegation and the power of saying ‘no’ when necessary.

The majority of the sessions, after the business coaching had concluded, were with Debora focusing on building a whole and strong sense of self.

This blend of business coaching and Big Mind eventually led to the creation of a great leader whose perspective was fresh and new and who was emotionally and psychologically prepared to lead this new project, for the sake of herself, her supporters and the community of San Mateo, Guatemala.

After this work Lys had grown into a person who could listen and focus, who could achieve the tasks that were being asked of her, who could be aware of her emotional states without allowing them to get in the way of her work and her commitment to all involved.

Lys is now empowering other women and she is rightly proud of herself. Fear is still there, but now she talks to it and asks fear what is it that it wants to say, but now as a friend and advisor and not as an enemy. And the best part is that she trusts the wisdom of this voice, and others that she has embodied.

Semilla de Esperanza y Amor is now home to an afterschool project that serves 137 children with love, compassion and wisdom. And we love her for that, because she is doing a lot of good in a very needy area of her own country.

Thank you for reading,

Debora Prieto,
Guatemala, March 16, 2012


More about our Leadership Development
Debora and Mick are using Integral Theory, The Big Mind Process, Evolutionary Teachings and theories and practices from The Uncommon Path in their 
leadership program for school/project directors and staff in Guatemala.

We worked with two different project leaders and their staff under the guidance 
and supervision of parent organizations who are responsible for those schools.
We met once per week, twice per month, once per month, or as needed with 
the directors for business and personal coaching sessions.

1.  Semilla de Esperanza in San Mateo, Guatemala  

Mick and Debora met once per week with the director of this
school and also with her assistants. We used a combination of Big Mind,
NLP and traditional business coaching exercises to help the team
navigate the complexities of running a school that services
over 100 children and their families in a rural area of Guatemala.

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The opening of the new school in 2011        Deb cuts the ribbon on the kindergarten

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This program is for over 100 kids                  Our logo on the wall!!! (thanks Lys)

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The old school at San Mateo                The village San Mateo

Included in our coaching for leaders:

- Subjective development using Big Mind
- Inter-subjective using some NLP techniques
- Guidance on the value of resumes and job descriptions
- Building a management hierarchy for the school

This school is funded by donors from the CasaSito Organization
You can see mention of our work here in the CasaSito newsletter 
from July 2010 and again in October of 2010.

2.  The Scheel Center - Jocotenango, Guatemala

The Scheel Center is a school and community center that opened in 2008. 
It was built on a former landfill (dump) that abuts a slum called Vista 
Hermosa (Beautiful View).  A beautiful view indeed as you can see in some 
of the photos in the left sidebar.

The Scheel Center is where Debora spent two days per week, working with
the kids, teaching philosophy and English and on certain days trekking up 
the hills to find the kids who don't show up to school on for three days in row (because the parents don't see the value of education!). 

Deb also gives her time teaching English and Evolutionary Philosophy, doing 
Big Mind with the kids, the moms, and the staff.
Debora also uses the The 
Big Mind Process with the directors, teachers, mothers and kids at 
The Scheel Center

Mick is involved with Debora on a project called Dreaming Voices in Action.
You can see some photos above to the left. We have trained a group of kids
the basics of public speaking and structuring a message. The current show
topic is domestic abuse (psychological, emotional, physical, sexual).

The parent organization in charge of this project is The God's Child Project.

Past Projects in Leadership Development

Bendición de Dios Project in Alotenango, Guatemala.

Mick visited this location twice per month with a member of the CasaSito 
staff for coaching with the director and this management team.

The project was started by Julio Cesar without any outside financial help. 
Now the project is supported by donations and help from volunteers. 
The center now provides classes, breakfast and lunch for 120 children.  

The coaching work included the expansion and improvement of the existing 
school to improve the quality of education and the development of a
consistent and productive online marketing presence.

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Mick with his translatorMick with Julio, Bendicion de 
Fabiola (middle) workingDios director as they begin
on web marketing with Paolaa business/financial planning
at Bendicion de Dios.coaching project.

This school is funded by donors from the Los Ninos Organization.
Visit the Bendicion de Dios webiste here

Beneficio de Mujeres Indígenas in Chocantariy  

Chocantariy (show-can-tar-e) is located in a remote rural location in 
Central Guatemala. Proyecto Luz & Vida benefits the local community 
and the trip from our home in La Antigua is several hours of fun driving 
on crazy, pothole-chicken-bus-filled roads!

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The project at Chocantariy.             One of the local kids       The local bus system

Mick visited this location about once per month with a member of the
CasaSito staff for coaching with the director of Proyecto Luz & Vida.
One of the many questions at this facility is to find a way to make an 
operation like this financially independent. This is proving to be quite 
challenging at the present time. 

Here is a short video the project and neighborhood:

In one successful workshop Mick used Ken Wilber's 4-Quadrant model 
to help the director see his strengths and weaknesses. This proved
very beneficial in revealing that while he is self-confident and
organized (Q1), he has good infrastructure (Q3) and financial planning 
(Q4), his area of improvement rests in building more long-term
relationships with donors and other supporters (Q2).

This is the website of Proyecto Luz y Vida - http://proyectoluzyvida.wordpress.com/

About Guatemala:
Guatemala is a republic. It is 108,890 square kilometers (42,042 square miles), 
that’s about the size of Virginia, half the size of the UK and a little bigger than Ireland. Guatemala is the next country south of Mexico and with a population 
of 14 million people, it is the second most densely populated country in 
Central America. Visit CIA factbook website about Guatemala


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The Integral Heart Foundation is a U.S. Registered 501(c)3 non-profit.