Support indigenous women's self-sufficiency in MX

by The Circle of Women
Eyes Check
Eyes Check

Hola everyone,

Thank you for your ongoing support. I just wanted to update you on what’s going on with the Circle of Women, as I head into the heat of Oaxaca and Miramar this week. I go with great curiosity because I’ve not been since March—the longest time ever! The weavers have taken more control of their marketing and business. But, I’ve been missing them. GLASSES FOR ALMOST EVERYONE Enabled by El Clinic de Pueblo in San Martin, a suburb of Oaxaca, 35 women from Miramar had their eyes examined. Of these, 31 were found to need glasses and were supplied with some. Other major eye health conditions were diagnosed to be caused by the sun, dust, and infectious conjunctivitis. The women were instructed in eye washing with chamomile. This is the first big exam for any woman in Miramar who wanted it.

LEARNING ABOUT GOOD FOODS AND LEAVING OUT THE JUNK As part of the health program, the women have been studying and understanding the meaning of GOOD FOOD. This involves recognizing what foods lack good nutritional qualities and which are highly processed and lead to health problems.

The women conducted a survey of what was available in Miramar and what people were eating by looking in trash piles and visiting stores. The women were amazed at the enormous amount of garbage generated by industrialized food. They made an agreement with one another to not offer this kind of food to their children and to design healthy snacks for use in the community.

This program was completely designed e women, guided by Dr. Armida Sanchez, and made possible through the generous support of Pura Vida Coffee company.

ANNOUNCEMENTS Tom Feher’s and my book, “Weaving yarn, Weaving cultures, Weaving lives: The Circle of Women in Miramar, Oaxaca” is now at the publisher in Mexico and we have been promised it in time for the holidays. It is beautiful. Tom’s pictures of the weavers are wonderful.

Thank you for all you do.


Photo: Tom Feher
Photo: Tom Feher
Cover Image "Weaving yarn, Weaving cultures..."
Cover Image "Weaving yarn, Weaving cultures..."
Photo: Tom Feher
Photo: Tom Feher

This Spring, the Circle of Women expanded its bilingual literacy program “Reading with All Your Senses” to the village of Union y Suspiro, an adelea of Miramar. Augustina Lopez, will be teaching over twenty women using the highly successful literacy curriculum developed by Patty Tovar, Phd. Augustina is a Mixteca literacy teacher who has been working with us for over four years and was just in the US to present the innovative literacy curriculum at the We Learn conference in RI.

We need your help to fully implement this plan. Thank you to all who already donated!

Please help us raise $1,775 to meet our goal of $4,000 by June 15th to cover teacher salaries, supplies and materials, and travel costs. We can’t do it without your support.

Currently in Miramar, the graduates of the literacy program have created a mobile library, and have begun to write stores in Mixtec. The participants in the women's reading circle are reading story books and taking them home to share with their families. Getting books into homes will perhaps eventually lead to the reopening of the library in Miramar. We have also formed a new group to assist moms who have had little opportunity to practice reading increase their skills and at the same time help their children who are struggling with reading skills. This family reading program is intended to increase the use of reading to enrich the lives of the young mothers and their children. None of this could have happened without your support!

It all started with an email from Judith Lockhart Radtke, in which there was a link to a web page which presented the research of women from different places around the world, working in the field of literacy, in relation to social rights, gender violence, and the arts. Immediately I felt a great affinity for this group and what “We Learn” offers. I wanted the challenge to participate in this annual conference. Shortly after Mev Miller had accepted our participation and from that moment began the preparation of travel (visa arrangements, tickets etc) and at the same time I began to imagine many things around this experience: how many women would be there? from where? what they will they think, and how will they respond to our work?

One night before the conference, we had dinner at a Circulo Supporter's house. The cold and snowy day contrasted with the warmth and friendliness of our hosts. We talked until late, it was interesting and encouraging the way they wanted to know the details of our literacy project and I learned a lot about American culture in only one night.

The next day we arrived at the University of Rhode Island. I loved the city: clean, quiet the nineteenth century looking . Upon arrival, we saw in the work schedule, the time of our conference workshop: "Reading with all the senses." By then, Agustina, Lynne and I began to feel the nervousness of the responsibility involved in appearing before an international forum. Everything happened gradually: first the breakfast, and geting to know conference participants, then searching for our room and waiting for participants. This was exciting to see them arrive-- women of different ages, different nationalities, all with much experience in the field of education, such a challenge was in front of us.

I decided to start talking about the cultural and historical context in which we have worked for more than three years developing our program. This part was very interested to them, there were questions all the time and environment was becoming increasingly participatory, increasingly active. During the introduction of the scheme of our method of work, all the questions were about how to apply them in different contexts, in that moment I realized the importance of our work. I realized that "to read with all the senses" as a method, that could be used in different cultures and could help many more women from different countries and different ages.

At the end of this experience and after spending two weeks in a multicultural country like the U.S., I can say the greatest learning, was to prove that the dedication with which we have worked for years in Miramar, has produced results that transcend the local level. Working with art as a way to explore identity and the production of images as a line of work are contributions that can support the growth of women in many other places outside of Miramar. Literacy is an enjoyable process and profoundly human. Thank you for this learnning to the Circle of Women and to We Learn.

Exhibit at Museo de Textil  in Oaxaca
Exhibit at Museo de Textil in Oaxaca

Hola to all Circulo Supporters!

First, this is to thank those of you who have remained steady in your support of the Circle of Women through these difficult financial times. We have held our budget tight at about $40,000. It has been a bit of a struggle because the peso has risen in value and we did not want to cut salaries. Pura Vida coffee company out of Seattle which buys coffee in the Miramar area is now underwriting our health program.

It has been a great year. The exhibit of the weavings at El Museo de Textile in Oaxaca has brought international attention to the work of the women. Their growth is evident in their graciousness in greeting people and staying in contact with the museum. We, can not say enough about the staff who have been wondreful to work with. They are as happy as we are about the success of the exhibit. The weavers will now make a decision if they want to move the exhibit or sell their weavings.

Patty Tovar, Phd, Director of Projects, and Augustina Lopez, Miramar Literacy Teacher, just visited Boston to present their work with the literacy program at the We Learn Conference in RI. It is clear after the presentation to literacy professionals that we have indeed created something quite special and useful cross-culturally and for a variety of bilingual situations. Patty will apply the cirriculum with one more indigenous group, Zapotec women (rug makers), and will begin familiarizing the education folks in Mexico. This year’s work of the health program will be more focused on physical and emotional health issues of women. This will be more intensive than previously and will involve training of health personnel in the community. Work will include how to stay safe in abusive situations, negotiation techniques, and illnesses unique to women. Armida Sanchez, MD and the women have put together a challenging program.

We hope you will continue to support this rather unique program which among other things is a think tank for cross-cultural work and creator of new understandings in the field of development.

Thank you for all your help from the women of Miramar.

Exhibit at Museo de Textil  in Oaxaca
Exhibit at Museo de Textil in Oaxaca
Exhibit at Museo de Textil  in Oaxaca
Exhibit at Museo de Textil in Oaxaca
Exhibit at Museo de Textil  in Oaxaca
Exhibit at Museo de Textil in Oaxaca
Patty and Augustina visiting Boston
Patty and Augustina visiting Boston
Photo: Augustina Lopez weaving. By Tom Feher.
Photo: Augustina Lopez weaving. By Tom Feher.

We just opened an extraordinary exhibit of the weavers’ work and lives presently in El Museo de Textil, in Oaxaca city. The most wonderful part of the exhibit was the comfort of the weavers as recognized artisans. They moved with ease among the museum people, guests and each other. Petra gave a talk of welcome in Mixteco, with beautiful grace and smiles. They were in their element and ah, what self-esteem they have! The exhibit will continue until March 2010. Please visit to see videos and photos from the opening of the show.



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Organization Information

The Circle of Women

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

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