This is an umbrella organization serving 700 Mayan crafts women. their latest environmental impact may seem small .. It is creating and distributing reusable - non paper - sanitary supplies to women. The disposable items cost them 12 quetzals ..that money be better used to feed the family.
Their home, Lake Atitlan, is a world heritage site that has been degraded over the past 20 years by the incursion of Gringo products. The oxygen level measured in the 1970s was 7.00 ...now it is teetering at .3.
The women make their money from creating artisan goods to sell to tourists. If the lake goes, that income will stop.
I have watched the women who are members of this organization change over the past 8 years. When they started with Oxlajuj B'atz (Thirteen Threads), they lacked the confidence to speak freely or even more than a whisper. Now, years later, they are mentoring new groups and turning OB into a member owned and operated association that is managed and directed by a General Assembly of all indigenous women. The intention of OB is to help women gain the skills they need to improve their economic situation. Empowerment and confidence-building have proven to be an essential first step in their success. I remember a story that one women told when her community group was meeting. She said that before she started working with OB, her neighbor used to yell at her and steal her things and she was too afraid to speak up and stop her. But after a year of workshops at OB with other women like her, she went to her neighbor and said, "I don't want you to ever treat me badly again and if you try to take any more of my things, I will call the police." She felt so proud of herself when she did this and said it had changed her life and the way she looked at her opportunities. There is no denying that poverty still exists for many of the women in OB, but the small changes that provide the basis for the bigger tipping point are happening on a daily basis. It's a very inspiring organization!
This organization is impressive for the effort it makes to empower it’s individual members and enable them to identify their own learning needs while they are acquiring skills for a sustainable future. Since most of the members have little formal education, this approach requires significant energy to develop creative strategies that allow members to achieve their goals within the framework of the organizational mission.
Toward this end Thirteen Threads provides a unique opportunity for volunteers to help members work toward one or more of their stated goals. Needs assessments provide the groundwork and dedicated, talented staff provide enthusiastic support. So volunteers are then free to use their own skills in an atmosphere that fosters learning and growth. It’s a great chance to work with a dream team while making a difference!
The four months I planned to volunteer at OB quickly turned into 10 months. The work was rewarding and the staff formed an incredibly supportive community, that even after 10 months was hard to say goodbye to. I learned so much from the women OB supports, probably more so than I actually contributed. They continue to be an inspiration to me and the many other people that have passed through Casa Cakchiquel.
I joined Oxalajuj B'atz' for 10 weeks over the Summer of 2012 to work on their Monitoring and Evaluation systems. My professional background is in Government Statistics and I was keen to come and work with a small NGO to see how they manage the challenges of information managament and evaluation on the ground. And Oxlajuj B'atz' impressed me. The foundations for a robust M+E system were set up by the previous M+E Director, but the day-to-day data collection and quality control was managed by a small team of community faciliators who managed this administrative task on top of a wide remit of responsibilities. I offered my time to analyse and collate the information that was all readily available, and wrote an Impact Report for Oxlajuj B'atz'. The work, passion, and dedication of all those involved in Oxlajuj B'atz (from the CEO, Development Manager, community faciliators, volunteers and of course the many many indigneous Mayan women who are at the heart of Oxlajuj B'atz') was humbling, and it was an honor to dedicate my time to writing about them and their successes. I wish Oxlajuj B'atz' full success in the future as it works towards its' goal for empowerment and education of indigenous Mayan women. It is not often that within such a small organisation or group of people each and every individual is not only a pleasure to talk to but also an inspiration.
Volunteering for three months at Thirteen Threads was hands-down the most formative, influential, inspiring experience of my life. From day one, I was welcomed with open arms by each and every one of the organization's staff members - some of the kindest and warmest women I have ever had the opportunity to meet, let alone work with - and I constantly felt that the work I was assigned was both highly substantive and crucially important to the organization's mission of sustainable, holistic, community development and women's empowerment. Words simply cannot describe Thirteen Threads to give it the credit that it deserves!
This summer I had the privilege of spending 8 weeks volunteering with Thirteen Threads. I had the chance to see a remarkable group of passionate and talented women working hard to improve the lives and opportunities of other women. Each project is carried out by a dedicated team and their impact is clear to see; the women they work are given the confidence and skills they deserve and need to improve their own lives. Thirteen Threads gave me the chance to see the difficulties that women in their communities face and an incredible insight into the work they do to combat them; all done with a smile as well!
My time with Thirteen Threads has been incredibly influential. It is hard to explain an experience that has shaped my perspective so profoundly. I can say that I am honored to work with such a large and diverse community of talented and good-hearted women. I can also say that OB’s mission of female empowerment through education and support is holistically central to all that takes place there and is a mission that I have been thrilled to help along, in all ways possible. Last week I attended a graduation at OB. It was a group of around ten indigenous women who have been taking rug-hooking classes at OB for the past three years. In graduating, they are now ready to be teachers in their respective villages, which will increase their own livelihoods as well as any and all of their students’. It was a very happy and moving day with so much promise and excitement for the future. It is projects like these that make OB such an incredibly unique and important non-profit.