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NGO & Indigenous Women Sustaining Impact in Mexico

by Psicologia y Derechos Humanos PSYDEH A.C.
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NGO & Indigenous Women Sustaining Impact in Mexico
NGO & Indigenous Women Sustaining Impact in Mexico
NGO & Indigenous Women Sustaining Impact in Mexico
Screenshot from short film "Woman Citizen"
Screenshot from short film "Woman Citizen"

Since we last wrote, your investment helped PSYDEH to 

  • finish our (a) program impact evaluation, and (b) novel storytelling initiative
  • complete a 2019 rural citizen-feedback tool
  • nimbly change course on our Seed Fund initiative
  • premiere “Woman Citizen”, our longest, most personal film yet
  • lead in new national and international initiatives


Feedback is elemental to making a sustained impact. PSYDEH’s multi-year program was born from the appreciative inquiry of local leaders. Five years later, we now analyze responses to our summer 2019 comprehensive impact EVALUATION of our program from three key stakeholders: indigenous partners, public officials, and staff and volunteers.

Not all feedback is the same. We help beneficiary-partners give useful feedback by guiding them in ways to share their thoughts with government and others involved in solving wicked challenges. For example, we recently completed our FEEDBACK-FACILITATING MANUAL for indigenous women across the Republic on how they can use their right to access public information critical for actionable sharing, as well as their right to protect their personal data.  Also, by year’s end, our NARRATIVE initiative will have trained women on how to be powerful storytellers, critical to actionable sharing in their communities and when representing themselves and their areas to the world. And they will have their own new organizational narratives, as well as personal poems, histories, and portraits living on the web.

Feedback matters. As this report goes to press, we are in the field exploring how best to CHANGE COURSE with our Seed Fund initiative to reflect women’s demands and the new Mexican government’s policy investing directly into the “pueblo”.


For PSYDEH, photos and moving images reflect truth. They promote autonomy, are an antidote to feeling invisible, and are a very-2019-tool to inspire thinking. Our videos relay information. Our original films offer high-quality visual content designed to transport the viewer, to move her intellectually and emotionally. See for yourself. We recently premiered the next in our series of short documentary films called “Ciudadana” (Woman Citizen) recounting 2018-2019 rights-oriented work funded by the Mexican National Electoral Institute.


In October, PSYDEH was chosen by GlobalGiving as one of seven Mexican nonprofits around the country to mentor their network of 120 Mexican nonprofits in 2019-2020. We also were among four non-profits from around the world, the only one from Latin America, invited by GlobalGiving to convene in Washington, DC with 20 others from the philanthropy sector to explore what we call the “Neutrality Paradox”. Damon Taylor, PSYDEH Senior Advisor and representative to the convening, states, “The conversation reinforces what we believe to be the truth, that the right solutions to wicked problems are best created when uniting diverse voices in a safe space… [And] it’s important to PSYDEH and grassroots organizations like us that global platforms’ access-focused processes keep the “human element” central and allow for nuanced review of complex dilemmas in countries like Mexico.” 


Our 4th quarter report will celebrate:

  • 2019 impact in the field
  • efforts to diversify income streams, including our 2019-2020 global crowdfunding campaign
  • new organizational developments

¡juntos somos mejores!

Storytelling Training
Storytelling Training
PSYDEH vehicle in Mexican mountains
PSYDEH vehicle in Mexican mountains
Neutrality Paradox Convening, Washington, DC, USA
Neutrality Paradox Convening, Washington, DC, USA
Feedback Session with Indigenous Women
Feedback Session with Indigenous Women


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Otomi leaders
Otomi leaders

Since we last spoke, PSYDEH 

  • trains 25 indigenous women leaders of our network of five organizations (Network) on telling their stories — in text, portrait, and video — to own their power,
  • completed a project promoting how rights to access public information and personal data privacy increase female political participation, and
  • contributed to a national report on how to increase access to, adoption and application of communication technology while launching our new digital communications platform.


PSYDEH neared completion of our inaugural storytelling initiative funded by you. Our goal? Pursue phases 5-7 in our process-oriented program when using stories to unitelink and support the women leaders of the Network to solve their own local problems. 

This action invites vulnerable women to weave their personal stories and co-design photography portraits. And we reflect on their journey together since late-2015 when co-producing high-quality videos to tell their organizations’ and network’s stories to the world.

For example, the Otomí leaders of Mujeres con Futuro focus on what it means to collaborate across different, isolated communities, and to represent their communities at the municipal and state levels. And, the Nahua women leaders of Yolki Ino Yolo focus on their textile cooperative Yoltika Moda Artesanal

From beginning-to-near-end, PSYDEH sees clear, measured progress by women using their stories to own their power. Katie Freund, initiative co-leader, says,

“One of the many big wins is how the women have named their regional organization Siempre viva (Always Alive) with a tagline “no me olvides” (Don’t forget me). This thinking, inspired by the names of flowers in their region, speaks to how the women want to see themselves, who they are. They choose the flower “Siempre viva” because no matter where each woman is or how far apart, their Network, this organization remains alive. And “no me olvides”, styled after the commonly known Forget-me-not flower, the symbol of victims of domestic violence, has two meanings. ONE, “don’t forget me” is a rallying cry. Due to home responsibilities, it is virtually impossible for women to be at all activities. This tagline helps them remember that all women are part of the collective decision-making process and should remain steadfast in the knowledge that they are better together. TWO, the flower metaphor captures their sentiment about those women leaders whose voices have been silenced by such things as an unexpected death, violence or the need to migrate to cities or “the north” for a livable wage. Their spirits, the women explained, remain in the hearts of those who still lead the organization. They are not and cannot be forgotten.”

PSYDEH will complete storytelling work in the 3rd quarter. Thereafter, the women’s and their organizations’ stories and videos will live on their respective webpages on PSYDEH’s website.


PSYDEH completed its 2018-2019 project educating and organizing 170 rural indigenous women (and men) to use their right to access public information and right to personal data privacy to increase political participation. This work follows on the heels of our inaugural work promoting these rights and nationally recognized 2016-2017 work promoting women participation in electoral politics.

Project takeaways include:

  • Cross-cultural, social capital building activities are valuable. Nearly all of those 143 people attending the 5th Regional Forum stated that they enjoyed the cross-cultural learning experience.
  • Our cascade learning model works. 170 workshop participants are open to or have already begun forming groups of 10 to 12 people who share learning with neighbors. We anticipate that this cascade effect will result in around 1,700 people in the region learning basic information on how to exercise their rights to access public information and the protection of personal data.
  • A women-led civil society organizational structure can lead to increases in female public decision-makers. The example of PSYDEH's aforementioned women-led Network has led to increases in female political participation, which we believe will produce a gradual increase in the number of women public decision-makers.


Among PSYDEH’s myriad wins was our being chosen by the global Endeavor as one of eight mostly-global civil society organizations to speak at a private roundtable on ways to increase access to, adoption of information and communication technologies in Mexico. Learn more HERE about Endeavor’s Roundtable and our contribution.

Another win comes courtesy of our 2018-2019 collaboration with the digital communications and media giant Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN). Not only have we launched a new website in English and Spanish with a brand new look, but we’ve also updated our YouTube channel and Facebook pages in Spanish and English, as well as Twitter and Instagram. We’ve launched a new LinkedIn page too!


Our 3rd quarter 2019 report will celebrate:

  • the completion of the storytelling initiative,
  • our maiden short documentary film,
  • results from PSYDEH’s first organizational social-impact analysis.

¡juntos somos mejores!

Nahua leaders
Nahua leaders
5th regional forum I
5th regional forum I
5th regional forum II
5th regional forum II
5th regional forum III
5th regional forum III
With global Ashoka, PODER & more @ Endeavor event
With global Ashoka, PODER & more @ Endeavor event


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Josefina (photo by Diogo Heber)
Josefina (photo by Diogo Heber)

In the 1st quarter of 2019,

  • we mourn the loss of a colleague while making progress in the field,
  • our special projects coordinator sets to launch our next crowdfunding campaign, and
  • we pursue new global relationships


In late-January 2019, our colleague Josefina Merced Velasco Velasco died unexpectedly from liver complications. We are devastated by this loss. As one of her peers said on the day of her funeral, and obvious from this tribute video “she was a great source of joy to all those with whom she worked.”

Josefina lived with her husband in the community of El Nandho, San Bartolo Tutotepec where they grew coffee and peanuts and raised pigs. Among the 120 people living in her community, 95% are indigenous, almost 40% of women are illiterate with their averaging a second-grade education. 80% of homes have electricity, but there are no computers, fixed telephones, nor internet. Click HERE to learn more about Doña Josefina.

Like all who face loss, we mourn. And we work to honor Josefina’s legacy by making field progress in 2019 work to promote smart use of the rights to access public information and protect personal data.


Mahathi Kumar is a U.S. Fulbright-García Robles Scholar to Mexico, 2018-2019 where her day job is English-language academic assistant at La Universidad Politécnica Francisco I. Madero in Tepatepec, Hidalgo. As volunteer Special Projects Coordinator, Mahathi writes, “What strikes me about PSYDEH is the importance of story-telling. Every person has their own story to tell in their own voice. It is an honor to work with a group of people who are so committed to making these stories heard and to harnessing them to make a change."

Mahathi helps PSYDEH with creative material design and production, new internal policy development and leads our newly launched “Sustain Impact” global crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to underwrite our new bilingual female Coordinator of Sustainability, as well as ongoing fieldwork.

See this Campaign FAQ for more detail.  And CLICK HERE to donate!


First quarter outreach efforts have been nothing short of extraordinary.

  • We published our first novel animated lesson in English and Spanish on program work.
  • We explore interesting collaborations with the British Council, among other global funders and friends. 


Our 2nd quarter 2019 report will celebrate PSYDEH’s:

  • continued success in the field,
  • ongoing crowdfunding work, and
  • expected wins in national and global outreach

¡PSYDEH sustaining impact!

Mahathi Kumar (photo by Mayra Linares for COMEXUS)
Mahathi Kumar (photo by Mayra Linares for COMEXUS)
INE 2019 fieldwork (photo by Diogo Heber)
INE 2019 fieldwork (photo by Diogo Heber)


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Guillermina, Otomi leader of "Flor del Bosque"
Guillermina, Otomi leader of "Flor del Bosque"

PSYDEH finishes 2018 strong and looks to 2019 for more progress creating lasting communities of change.

Since our 3rd quarter report,

  • women partners start to tell their stories.
  • PSYDEH was chosen as one of GlobalGiving’s top 15 NGOs committed to impact in 2018.
  • 2016-2018 project success leads to new exciting work in 2019.


Guillermina writes,

“I left school and started doing housework at the age of eight. With my being one of 16 siblings, there wasn’t enough food to eat nor money for education. Some of my siblings studied until high school, but I didn't. My parents said the school was too dangerous for me. At the age of 20, I married a humble man dedicated to farming. He studied until the third grade in primary school. I had 4 children to whom I have dedicated my life to help them get ahead. My oldest daughter studied until the first semester of college but then quit; I could not support her anymore and my husband did not want to support her. My other three children studied through high school but no further. They saw that they had no chance to pursue a profession and decided to cross to the north, where they now make their lives and have become parents, too. With my children off leading their own lives, I used my free time to study primary and then secondary school. I’ve earned my certificate. Now, I like to teach others what I learn with PSYDEH, to give support to those who need me.”

Guillermina’s story is one of 20 narratives PSYDEH helps to create with women leaders of our partner NGO network. Why? Stories bind us, they define who we are and what people think of us, and what we think of ourselves. We connect, collaborate, and make fairer, more inclusive societies through the compelling stories we weave, knowing that the most personal is the most universal.

Thanks to your investment in PSYDEH, our novel storytelling initiative will end with:

  • women like Guillermina presenting their stories before 100s of people at the 5th Regional Forum in spring 2019, and
  • these stories highlighted on the women’s NGO's pages in PSYDEH's website.

This work, and the other key elements of our project — embroidery initiativeNGO strengthening, and seed fund — will be completed by April 2019, just in time for women and their organizations to use the fruits of this work to strengthen their chances of securing funding from the new Mexican federal government.


End of 2018 bears exciting tidings about PSYDEH’s growing brand.

GLOBALLY, (1) we have just been chosen as one of the top 15 nonprofits in GlobalGiving’s network committed to sustained impact in 2018. To be chosen as the only Mexican NGO on the list, from among hundreds of NGOs around the world, is seen by PSYDEH as the greatest of honors. (2) We continue to explore a multi-year collaboration with the Hamburg, Germany based Lemonaid & ChariTea Foundation. (3) We look to leverage our partnership with USA-based professionals of the global Dentsu Aegis Network into a 2019 collaboration with their Mexico-city based colleagues.

NATIONALLY, (1) we wrap up our three-year term as Hidalgo’s only NGO representative to the Consejo Consultivo, the citizen board advising the government on indigenous community development. Among the national policies for which we’ve pushed is Mexico’s first national institute to guarantee rights for indigenous communities. (2) We now explore with GlobalGiving’s Mexico representative a seat on their new national leadership council of high-performing NGOs.


PSYDEH just finished our first project with a national institute focused on fighting corruption (INAI) — another great opportunity to use our scalable program to make a sustained impact. Here, we are one of 22 Mexican NGOs across the Republic promoting knowledge and activism around the rights to access public information and to the protection of personal data. Why? For PSYDEH, these rights are the keys to citizens exercising all other rights. See HERE our short film promoting these rights and this project.

By design, this 2018 project and our nationally recognized 2016-2017 work strengthening women’s participation in Mexico’s democracy has led to PSYDEH being chosen for a new project to strengthen women’s leadership in electoral processes in 2019. We are stronger together, especially when strategically smart! 


Our 1st quarter 2019 report will celebrate PSYDEH’s:

  • first animated lesson in Spanish and English,
  • current USA Fulbright colleague Mahathi Kumar,
  • revamped website, and
  • continued success in the field.

¡Felices fiestas de México!

Storytelling training workshop
Storytelling training workshop
Storytelling training workshop II
Storytelling training workshop II


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Organization Information

Psicologia y Derechos Humanos PSYDEH A.C.

Location: Santiago Tulantepec - Mexico
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @psydeh
Project Leader:
Damon Taylor
Mexico City, Distrito Federal Mexico
$3,054 raised of $10,000 goal
38 donations
$6,946 to go
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