Bring Literacy to Indigenous Women - Oaxaca Mexico

by The Circle of Women
Feb 13, 2012

Winter 2012 Report: New Directions

As is so often the situation in development work, our literacy program underwent some exciting changes in direction.  Because of the pregnancies of both master teachers, Augustina Garcia Lopez and Edith Espana, it was decided it was not a good idea to move the program yet to additional villages because of the extensive walking required and the danger long travel might pose to pregnancies. The plan to expand the literacy program has been delayed until the Fall of 2012.
 
This decision resulted in the women of the advanced program (22 women), the Book Club, who are in their fifth year of the literacy program, deciding to develop a microenterprise on their own with some support for materials. During their initial two year literacy program the final project was the making of dolls which they wrote stories for.  These dolls were shown in an exhibition at The Textile Museum in Oaxaca in the winter of 2010.  People were eager to buy them, however since many of these women had never had a doll before they were not happy to part with them.

The women in the Book Club run by Edith and Augustina, between reading of Like Water for Chocolate, thought they might be able to make more dolls and sell them.  To date, they have produced 23 dolls which will go on the market this winter.  They are presently using their newly acquired skills to write stories for each doll, which is tremendous as five years ago most of these women could only sign their names with an “X” or a fingerprint. The Book Club allows the women to practice their literacy skills in a supportive environment.
 
After the birth of their daughters, the master teachers, Edith and Augustina, presented The Circle of Women with a new program. This involved the teaching of Mixtec to Spanish and Spanish to Mixtec to young children in their communities.  There are children who are totally Mixtec speaking who enter the first grade in the state schools where only Spanish is used and have some difficulty adjusting at first. On the other hand children who do speak Spanish are faced with losing their Mixtec.  Both of our teachers are bilingual and have been teaching both languages to adults.  They have also done a pilot Spanish program with children.
 
There are two classes (15 children each) of 6-8 year olds being taught by Edith and Augustina, one Spanish to Mixtec in Miramar and the other in a more isolated village is in Mixtec to Spanish.

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Organization Information

The Circle of Women

Location: Chelsea, MA - USA
Website: http:/​/​thecircleofwomen.org
The Circle of Women
Project Leader:
Judith Lockhart Radtke
Staff Member
Chelsea, MA United States

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