WIL sponsors several educational events each year. Visit Upcoming Programs to learn more or read about our Past Programs.
Empower and inspire WIL members, through educational programs, to take action and become agents of change in furthering WIL’s mission. Build a common sense of purpose and community through networking and interactive program discussions at meetings.
Our goal is to raise understanding and increase support for village banks.
Support of microfinance is at the core of WIL’s mission.
Through our affiliation with The International Alliance for Women (TIAW), WIL has funded a total of eleven banks to date in Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, Haiti, East Timor and the Philippines. The total cost of each bank is $5,000. TIAW’s role is to identify, qualify and manage the selection and reporting of results from the NGO’s operation.
A benefit of your WIL membership is membership in TIAW. Through TIAW, learn more about Women on Boards, Micro-Enterprise, Entrepreneurship, Corporate Women’s Leadership Network and more.
More about WIL and Microfinance.
Many of our members enjoy traveling to visit women leaders in other countries and have taken trips as part of their membership with WIL.
On October 18th, 2014, ten women from WIL of Greater Philadelphia traveled to Nicaragua with Maderas Rainforest Conservancy, an organization whose focus is education, conservation, research and community outreach in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. They experienced the majestic volcanoes on Ometepe Island, the enchanting colonial town of Granda and the invigorating cloud forest in Matagalpa. But the main purpose of the trip was to share experiences with several women’s groups and help support their endeavors to develop self sustaining businesses.
Cuba by Rochelle Massarella
Through the auspices of WIL’s travel committee, seventeen (17) members travelled to Cuba on a wonderful 10-day educational-based group tour of Cuba, arranged by Global Exchange. For decades travelling to Cuba was not permitted for most Americans “making this island of salsa, Colonial architecture and Caribbean beauty a forbidden fruit for the adventurous.”
Some of the highlights of our trip included exchanges with women leaders in the field of art, culture, and health and community development. We had the opportunity to interact with real Cubans from “cigar-rolling farmers” to “classic-car aficionados,” and attend lectures by a famous architect and economist. Some of us attended a local baseball game. The tour also included a visit to a sustainable mountain community, an opportunity to meet with children at a local school as well as a visit to a medical facility in the mountains. The children seemed so happy and medical staff appeared competent and devoted to well-being of their community. We also toured the beautiful Old Havana and visited the Fine Arts Museum and local galleries.
We all appreciated the opportunity to get to know one another and have fun dining and dancing the Salsa. Below is a poem written by Mary Osbakken which captures the essence and beauty of our trip to Cuba.
Jan 13-22, 2014: Cuba Libra
How can one know a people?
A city, a country?
In one, five, ten days?
Only glimpses of life as it really is are possible.
Cuba, country of contrasts
Havana, city of contrasts
Economic freedom – in its infancy?
When will it be a reality?
Vibrant Art Scene
Painting, sculpture – indoors and out
Street murals, mosaics and statues
Art galleries, artists’ homes, museums
Street performances: circus, music, opera, and dance
Museums of all kinds
Historic, political, art, medical, pharmacy
Architecture of many genres
From 15th century medieval Spanish churches
City ramparts and foundations from the 1500s
Spanish colonial mansions, villas, palaces from the 1600’s to the 1900’s
To modern day hotels and other structures
People of all kinds and colors, a large portion derived from slave ancestry
Religion is, strictly speaking, taboo
But various forms of Christianity mixed with tribal cultures do exist
Haves and have not’s are apparent
Mostly related to skin color
How is this possible in this apparently egalitarian society?
Where do the haves get their largess?
Dependence vs independence
Where do they meet and/or separate?
A use for everything
Entrepreneurs with small businesses
New enterprises in the last 2-3 yrs
Paradores with moderately good to excellent food
Taxi services – collectives with renovated US 1950’s and 1960’s cars
Hair salons, barber shops, clothing stores
Adequate basic healthcare for all
If what we were told is true,
Cuba’s health care system is better that most in the western world
Infant and maternal mortality is next to zero
Education for all appears on the rise.
There are still things that prevent 100% occurrence
Why does it not apply to all?
Political posters throughout Havana, the country-side
On wall boards and crumbling buildings
Viva le revolution
Work together for all, for the cause
Medical care for all
Education for all
Cuban 5 martyrs – who are they?
Has the world forgotten?
Are the people free, happy?
Depends on the perspective
Do we really know?
Can Cuba develop a democratic socialist economy – before it is too late?
Before others come in and corrupt the people, government.
A Night on the Town by Miriam Cohen
An adventure and a wonderful memory from our trip:
Judy, Adrienne and I set out to have a delicious dinner and asked the Concierge for a recommendation. He suggests Rio Mar and makes a reservation for us. When we ask the hotel bellman to get us a cab, he wonders why we were going there, says they were after him at Rio Mar to send them customers, and seems put out that the Concierge told us to go there. Territorial in-fighting, yes?
We arrive at Rio Mar, look at the menu, and both Adrienne and Judy are not happy with this choice. They both have researched a lot of good places to eat, foodies that they are, and this place was clearly not what they have in mind. It is an awkward moment, since we are already sitting at a table, people are being very kind and solicitous of us, but I shepherd us out of there politely and quickly.
Now to get a cab to take us to Calle Diez, a restaurant with less fanfare and superior Cuban food, Adrienne and Judy had read about. There are no cabs in sight, just a few men milling around outside on a dark street. One man who might or might not have been connected to Rio Mar finally says he would take us although he wasn’t a taxi. We ask how much and he said whatever we wanted to pay. He seems kind and we feel safe enough to proceed.
We get into his car, clearly not a taxi, and the back door doesn’t open. He and several other men produce a wire hanger which opens the door. We three get in the back seat and begin our bumpy ride to Calle Diez, whereupon the back door flings open. Judy, next to the door, holds it shut while holding on to me, sitting in the middle, for dear life. This happens two or three times, door flinging open, the three of us grabbing each other, the driver apologizing and clearly feeling badly that he put us in harm’s way.
We finally arrive at Calle Diez, a beautiful setting and satisfying food, especially barbecued ribs and lemon pie for dessert. The price is at least half of what we have been paying for dinners elsewhere. Our next taxi ride home is in a lovely Audi, which the driver bought for himself with money earned working in China for four years. The doors open and close with ease.
A group of WIL members traveled to Haiti in October 2012 where WIL recently funded a village bank. Learn more about our trip to Haiti.
In April of 2010 WIL traveled to Guatemala to visit one of the WIL Village Banks. Read Terri Gelberg’s article about this trip that was recently published byTIAW.
Leverage diverse and effective medial channels to increase WIL’s visibility in the Philadelphia region by telling the powerful, compelling story of our mission and our impact of empowering women.
Integrate direct service opportunities for WIL members through mentoring.
Provide community service, education and travel by building strategic partnerships with international organizations to facilitate and implement WIL services.
Build institutional capacity, increase support to village banks, fund new programs through grants, enhance WIL’s educational, service and skills training offerings and support operations by expanding existing fundraising initiatives and developing new financial resources.