In August, the Kateri Scholars visited the Museo Ixchel in Guatemala City. The museum is focused on weaving and its importance in the Indigenous culture. Most of the young women and/or their mothers are weavers and wear traditional dress, but they do not always know the rich tradition they are foillowing. We have been focusing this year on Leadership and self esteem and knowing about the richness of the Indigenous culture develops good self esteem. This excursion directly worked to inform the young women of their roots.
The museum guide started the tour with a video which told of the history of the weaving and use of the traditional dress they wear. It also talked of the impact the Spanish invasion had on the culture. After the video, the guide led them through the museum exhibits explaining about the various types of thread before the conquest and the new types introduced by the Spanards. She also spoke of the tools used in weaving and the types of looms. The last part of the tour focused on the traditional dress of the different villages and regions and the paintings of Andres Curruchiche, a primitive painter of San Jaun Comalapa, depicting various customs.
The young women were impressed with all they saw and heard. Adela said that she learned a lot about the origin of weaving and was glad to see that the traditional dress was being conserved, so its history would always be available as presently there are many changes. Sandra Lourdes and Reina were happy to be able to share with the other young women and learn with them about their customs and traditions. Flory was impressed with the paintings of Andres Currichiche. Even though he couldn't read or write, he was able to become an excellent painter. Clara and Paula found the information about the the evolution of the tradtional dress interesting.. It made them realize that change is always happening. Glenda realized from the explication and her own observation how important the culture of each village is. Aura said that her family had heard of the museum, but had never visited it. They were waiting at home eager to hear what she saw. Marilena said that thanks to the trip she knows more about her culture and no longer is ignorant about its value. They all felt the trip added to their knowledge of their own world.
The theme of this year's monthly workshops is "Leadership in the Indigenous Community". Emilsa, the person in charge of these workshops, has planned activities to model this leadership style for the Kateri students. She started out with three workshops in self esteem. Her purpose was to encourage the young women to see themselves as capable of realizing their goals in life- that they were people who had value and possibilities.
The culmination of the workshops was for the young women to state what they wanted their future to be like- their goals. They drew a vision of this future and added their thoughts in writng. Some wanted to be nurses and work in a health clinic. Others wanted to be teachers and teach children Many saw themselves as secretaries in offices. Adela's goal was to work in an accountants office to get experience and finally have her own business. Sandra Cecelia is planning a future as a children's doctor. They all have a positive view of their future.
A second phase of the workshops has presented positive role models for the young women. At the April meeting, Lisabeth and Vilma, two young women from San Juan Comalapa, shared the projects they were working on as leaders. Graduates of the Kateri Education Program were invited to the May meeting to talk about their experiences as students and after. The young women were impressed with how much the lives of the graduates had improved as a result of their education. They now are leaders in their communities. The students asked many questions. The experiences of all these young women encouraged the students and gave them a model of what is possible.
Emilsa and I are pleased with the enthusiasm that the young women have shown and we expect their belief in themselves as leaders in their community will comntinue to grow.
The Women of Chumanzana development group is continuing to learn through workshops and visits arranged by the Kateri Fund. In March, Maria and her daughter, Yesica, accompanied Candelaria, the Fund promotor, on a visit to the Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura to observe and learn from the people there. Some of the things they saw were:
Maria commented that she received a lot of new knowledge and experiences, especially about different ways to plant. She enjoyed the visit and will be able to apply what she learned in her own garden. She also planned to share with the other women in the group. She never had this type of experience before and it animated her to try different kinds of vegetables.
Yesica said it was the first time she had left her village for an excursion. She had never seen so many different kinds of vegetables, ways of planting, and all the other good things there. She plans to work with her mother to implement the things they learned in their own garden. It is good to see the next generation involved!
In April, Maria and Candelaria began to share what they had learned with the other women and continued in May. There is much to share! Each month the women are learning more and putting it into practice!