ChangeMakers, Creating Success for Girls

ChangeMakers, Creating Success for Girls

By Margaret Porter


 photo 1 community trees
“Young Roots” explores the girls’ relationships with their families, friends, and their community. Here, the girls show their homework from the prior class where they drew trees with branches and were asked to show five problems in their community. In the roots of the tree, the girls were asked to draw or illustrate the “root causes” of the problems as they see them. They discussed how problems can have many different causes and how we approach problems from differing perspectives, varying influences that exacerbate the problems, and what potential solutions might be.



The newest program at Lakeside to benefit girls ages 15 to 18 is ChangeMakers Lake Chapala. The program offers girls a chance to grow personally and sharpen leadership skills as they grow into adulthood. The program helps with personal confidence, pride in their culture, health and wellness, continuing their education, envisioning a career, and community service.

Through the leadership of Monica Masini Aguilera, program coordinator, the girls meet weekly to immerse themselves in learning and sharing experiences in the central program “Young Roots.” Participants are also provided the opportunity to participate in a weekly Breath & Balance class, to become part of a community garden/huerto in San Juan Cosala under the guidance of Francisco Nava, and, as an elective, they may join ongoing ESL classes through an existing program in San Juan Cosala. Soon, Masini Aguilera will guide each participant on an individual plan toward attaining her life goals and career plans.

Masini Aguilera is aided by a group of mentors called “inspiradoras,” who are Mexican women from the professional, business, and social services fields. Providing overall guidance and financial support is the board of directors, members of the foreign community.

The program was started in San Juan Cosala at the outset of the pandemic–nothing was going to stop them! Plans are to start new groups in Ajijic and San Antonio Tlayacapan this fall, following all the safety guidelines.

If you’re interested in volunteering or financially supporting ChangeMakers Lake Chapala, contact We also invite you to visit our website, and find us on Facebook and like our page.

Here’s what a few of the members say about the program:


Since I joined ChangeMakers, I am a much more confident woman in the things I do, and/or in myself. Participating in this program has helped me to meet women who, like me, are determined to change the environment where we are, and to realize our dreams. In the same way, I have discovered that I am capable of things that I did not know I was capable of.

The most important thing is that I am learning how to lead my life and know who I am. In a personal aspect, it has helped me to be a better daughter, friend, and family member, to be a person more aware of her actions, with more optimism when doing activities.


This new program has helped me in many aspects, but the main change is that I am beginning to accept myself. Before, it was very difficult for me to accept myself as I am. Now I can also be more at peace with myself. Before, I was very concerned about what others said about me. I asked questions like, “Am I doing it right?” “What do others think of me?” “Am I weird?” Those questions hung around my head all the time, and it’s not like that anymore. Seeing these changes, I realize that this program really works, or at least it is working for me. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to participate in this project and for putting these great women on my path.


I have learned so many things and I have had beautiful moments. Starting the activity of the garden created by Dawna and Rodrigo in San Antonio, I found it super-interesting and fun. I realized that I like plants very much, something that without ChangeMakers I would not have realized. Then we opened the Coxala Garden in San Juan Cosala, which I am really enjoying, and I have learned even more things.

I love Monica’s teachings about our indigenous cultures, to reconnect with them with dances, songs, and new words. I felt very relaxed and more connected with nature and my heritage. Our Young Roots workshop, where I have learned to value myself as a person, is gratifying to me.


The Young Roots ChangeMakers curriculum is helping me to better manage my emotions and be a better person. I have attended four classes in which I have learned to channel my emotions, also to meet more people and have a good relationship with my classmates.


My learning in this program has been to accept ourselves as we are. We don’t need anything to realize that we are beautiful. I have also learned to manage my emotions and learn more about them.

We have to be able to send good vibes and get good vibes. This project has also helped me to become a lot calmer with myself and my dad.


This program has helped me to get to know myself better in many areas.  I currently am working to improve being more responsible with my obligations and activities, and working to maintain proper physical and mental care, which I must keep balanced. This has caused me to become more observant around me as well as to focus on some topics of interest to me.

I love the trust that exists today with all of the ChangeMakers participants and how we listen to each other, how we see our surroundings, what we want to achieve and how we will do it.


Personally, I take more care of myself. I love myself. I don’t feel bad about being the way I am because I learned that being me makes me special because of my essence. I better manage my emotions when faced with a conflict which is what generally disturbed me the most. Now I relax and solve the facts calmly. I no longer say such rude things because I live with many people. I adopt words from others and replace those bad words with kinder words.

I am more interested in the time that it takes to learn something new. I learned to socialize more. I allow myself to laugh and be myself at all times. I am able to say something about myself with positive aspects, and I also recognize my deficiencies. I am working to improve the things that I want to change.


When I started in the program, I was scared, afraid of not being accepted, afraid of not being able to achieve every objective that was in front of me. As time went by, the opportunity came to go to an organic garden, where I learned a lot about both fruit and flower plants. I learned to treat the land well and to enjoy nature and most importantly to connect with it. As time went by, each and every one of my insecurities were erased, taking me deeper. 

I love being part of this team and I can say that it is one of the best decisions I have made. Thank you for everything. I hope to continue growing as a person and learning from everyone who is part of ChangeMakers.

Maria Jose

I think that at first I felt a little nervous and insecure of myself. I thought that maybe I could not do the things that were required. In reality I did not know how to manage my emotions and feelings. The Young Roots classes have been serving me well, since little by little I have been trying to manage my emotions in a more adequate way and to trust myself.

Monica Masini Aguilera CHANGEMAKERS
Monica Masini-Aguilera

ChangeMakers Lake Chapala’s program director, Monica Masini-Aguilera, a native of San Juan Cosala, brings a diverse body of education and experience to the program. She has a Bachelor of Science in Education from ITESO University, and a masters’ degree in Education and Management of Knowledge from the same university. She is fluent in Spanish, English, Italian, and speaks a little French. She has been a school teacher in the third and fourth grades, has taught dance for cognitive and social-affective development, developed and taught social intervention models at the university level, and has been a research assistant in poverty and migration. She developed a project for the Distrito Federal about Human Rights, and another called “Youth Without Violence Project.” She began her career as coordinator of a community health project and primary school teacher in Chihuahua. One of her passions is dance, and she has taught ballet.

photos 2 communication
ChangeMakers held a class about communication, lead by Professor and Inspiradora Mariana Almaguer. The participants discussed the function and elements of communication, body language, and expressing emotions assertively.


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