Growing Together

Claudia García, Bogota, Colombia and Alejandra Galván, Rosario, Argentina.

March 2020 found us in a different reality when support Groups and other LLL events became virtually based in Latin America. In every country of the region there was a feeling of isolation and emptiness at having to postpone our internal meetings without an exact date or time to reschedule.

After our meeting in Panama in 2019, we were aware of certain topics that were not clear to many of us. Despite the physical distance of 8000 kilometers (4900 miles) between Colombia and Argentina, we were able to take advantage of being quarantined to get closer to each other and share our knowledge through many conversations on WhatsApp (a way for groups of people to stay in touch by phone messaging).

Following on from this, one day in June 2020, CRECIENDO JUNTAS (Growing Together) was born: a joint training project for the Leaders of Latin America to learn about topics that we all need to know about.

Latin American Area Coordinators of Leaders (ACLs), with the support of the International Area Network (IAN) Leadership Department, met to decide which topics we considered important for our Areas. Every Thursday evening in June and July, we organized Zoom meetings and broadcast live in a Facebook Group called Online Training Workshops. These meetings were attended by Leaders from across Latin America, as well as by several Applicants

We learned about the structure of LLL, conflicts of interest and mixing causes, the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (the Code), Leader responsibilities, the LLL Policies and Standing Rules (PSR), LLL branding and social media. These seven topics led by the ACLs helped increase our knowledge about the organization. We felt it was a great achievement and we really enjoyed learning from and communicating with our co-Leaders. Each talk was attended by 100 to 120 Leaders from 16 Latin American countries.

Everyone was so committed that when we got to the last talk Leaders wondered what was to follow. Therefore the Leader Accreditation Department (LAD) gave four talks that have motivated Applicants and their supporting Leaders to continue working together closely. We believe that this will surely be evidenced by rapid growth of LLL in Latin America.

At the end of the talks we stayed to chat for a bit, answer questions and listen to stories of the experiences from individual countries. It was there that the YouTube channel of LLL Latin America was born, which we opened with a conference by our most beloved Spanish pediatrician Carlos Gonzalez. Dr Gonzalez’s message was aimed at families and was widely welcomed. Some countries received donations in their accounts during the talk and even after it. The talk reached 38,060 views and it currently has 7,760 subscribers.

The vast majority of the virtual talks that were offered to families during the month of August for World Breastfeeding Week 2020 were published on this YouTube channel.

Currently this project has a life of its own, has strengthened our joint work internally and also enabled us to develop ideas to show all of us that if we work together, working collaboratively and collectively, and reflecting on our mission, we can achieve many goals.

Growing Together has come to stay, we’d like to give thanks to all Latin American Leaders, and encourage them to let us know their experience of it.

 

Claudia Garcia first found La Leche League when she was pregnant with her daughter Vanessa, in 2002. Claudia became a Leader in 2012; she lives in Bogota and leads a support Group in Colombia. Claudia is currently the ACL—Area Coordinator for AZA (Colombia, Peru and Ecuador)

Alejandra Galvan found La Leche League in 2000 when her first baby Franco was nine months old. Alejandra became a Leader in November 2001 when her second son Matías was four months old. Later, her daughter Vicky helped her complete her breastfeeding experience. Alejandra has been ACL twice for LLL Argentina. Currently, she co-ordinates virtual support Groups, provides telephone support for the LLL Argentina Facebook page and is finishing her training as a Communication Skills Facilitator.