A Spanish teacher from Washington, while traveling in Mexico, saw a need and came home to begin the process that led to the Mujeres de Maiz Opportunity Foundation. Indigenous women and girls in Chiapas, the poorest state in Mexico, rarely continued their education beyond elementary school. Their talents, skills and confidence weren't given opportunities to grow and develop. Through the efforts of that teacher, the board members, volunteers and donors, scholarship students now continue in school, some through college, and also share their new skills and knowledge with their local communities. Educating girls and women pays off. I have seen this first hand when I traveled to Chiapas with Mujeres. This is a well-run organization with very low operating costs and high payoff.
When I'm looking for an organization to support, there are several things I look for. They include: Does it do good work, does it do it well and is it efficient?
Mujeres de Maiz Opportunity Foundation shines in all these areas.
I have spent time in Chiapas and seen the foundation's good work, done well, which focuses on educational support for indigenous women and children in Chiapas, the poorest state of Mexico, but includes other support such as eye exams and glasses.
As one of the volunteer board members (there are no paid staff) I also applaud the efficiency of this organization.
If you are looking for a cause to support, I'd encourage you to learn more about and to consider Mujeres de Maiz.
It's impressive to see how many of the girls and young women have grown in confidence and maturity having participated in the programs sponsored by Mujeres de Maiz Opportunity Foundation. Some of the most shy, timid girls have gone on to lead educational projects in their own communities.
It makes me proud to be a part of this worthwhile organization.
I am continually impressed by the results of this small nonprofit organization. They have a very specific focus: educate and empower indigenous women who have been traditionally discriminated against in the Mexican culture. With the education they've received through scholarships, many have advanced in ways they could not have imagined.
Mujeres de Maiz OF continues to give opportunities to indigenous women and their families in Chiapas, Mexico, through education. We continue to help individuals by offering scholarships for secondary through university level work. In return several of the recipients give their time to the children of their communities by conducting Saturday schools. The children receive remedial help as well as enrichment activities. We are pleased that this year another community has joined in this project. One of the strengths of Mujeres de Maiz OF is letting the women in Chiapas decide what their needs are. Due to a solid group of supporters, we feel grateful that we have been able to see through completion all proposed projects as well as continue to fund ongoing scholarships and workshops. As a board member, I feel privileged to be able to visit the women at least once a year. I am awestruck by how confident and well-spoken the women have become. Change began as a hope and now change is an ongoing reality.
I am constantly amazed at the positive changes in the lives of the indigenous women with whom we, Mujeres de Maiz Opportunity Foundation, partner. It seems like such a short time ago when the possibility of education beyond the primary level was non-existent. This year two of the women received their university degrees and next year one is going to be involved in a nursing practicum! Even those who are not direct scholarship recipients are enthusiastically participating in adult literacy programs and workshops. The children are taking advantage of remedial and enrichment sessions on weekends. Sometimes as a board member it seems that all we do is raise funds. But my annual trip to Chiapas to reunite with the women humbles me, energizes me, and fills me with a profound sense of the worth of what we do.
This is an organization where every penny is counted and every penny counts. I have been able to meet with the women in Chiapas and see firsthand how the support we are offering has allowed them to make positive changes in their lives and in their communities. What is especially encouraging is the fact that the women are now proposing and creating the opportunities that best meet their needs. It's also exciting to have women getting degrees after having started with us in sixth grade.
I am not easily persuaded to serve on a board these days, but am proud to be a member of the Mujeres board. We have been to Mexico to see our work in action and are able to tell our supporters how every penny of their donations is spent. Being in constant contact with the women and communities we support lets us know that our efforts are making a difference in their lives.
Going into its tenth year as a nonprofit partnering with indigenous women in Chiapas, Mexico, Mujeres de Maiz OF maintains its high level of commitment and quality of programs. As a board member, it is inspiring to visit the women in Chiapas at least once a year to interact with them and follow the amazing progress of individuals as well as group advances. The devotion the women have to their families, community, and culture make them role models in Chiapas. Donations are used judiciously and reap incredible results.
Each time I visit the indigenous women in Chiapas I am amazed at the educational progress they have made. This coming December two of our scholarship recipients will graduate from university! It has not been easy for them. Yolanda had to take a year to remediate in order to be competitive at the university level. Her family was not always supportive of her efforts. It is gratifying to see her pride in having accomplished her goal, acknowledging that her success would not have been possible without the support she received from Mujeres de Maiz O.F. She helps organize and teach a Saturday school for elementary students in her village as a way to give back service to her community. She beamed when she told us how proud she was to wear her indigenous dress to university classes. She is proud of her village and heritage and serves as a role model for young women.
I have been working with Mujeres de Maiz for over three years and am just as enthusiastic about this organization as I was when I first learned about it. The board and supporters are truly committed to helping the indigenous women and girls of Chiapas, Mexico.
I have been involved with Soroptimist which is an international service organization that supports women and girls in bettering their lives. Our local Soroptimist club has been supporting Mujeres de Maiz for several years because Mujeres's goal of supporting Mayan women and girls to better their lives through education fits the Soroptimist goal. As I learned more and more about Mujeres and the number of lives of girls and young women who are being changed by the scholarships and support of Mujeres, I became a member of the Mujeres Board in 2012.
As Board Chair of Mujeres de Maiz Opportunity Foundation, there are a number of things that make me very proud. One is the fact that the women with whom we work assess their own needs and make proposals to us. This enables us to help them in the ways that will have the most impact. Another is the fact that we can see the changes over the past 7 years in the ways that the girls and women relate to each other and to us. 7 years ago there was little eye contact, little expressing of opinion, extreme shyness, almost no opportunities for life choices and feeling valueless. Now, especially in those who have continued their education through scholarships funded by us, we see assertiveness, decision making, eye contact, literacy teaching, and an ability and desire to express opinions. Moreover, the two continuing Saturday Children's Programs are in their 3rd year and flourishing, as it our adult literacy program. More women and girls are getting eye exams and wearing glasses. A new project provides the education and building materials for 28 families to have composting toilets. And, our supporters are the best!
This year was amazing for Mujeres de Maiz OF. Seventeen girls received scholarships this year and two of our long standing scholarship recipients will graduate from university in December, 2012. The two Saturday Children's Programs are flourishing and serving about 55 primary school children. Not only are the children strengthening their academic skills, but they are learning to write their Maya language, They have the chance to express their creativity in various art and theater projects and are becoming stewards of the environment by learning about recycling, composting and planting trees. When we visited the community of Crucero, we found a new structure that the parents of the children had built to house the program. It demonstrates how much the parents value this program. The programs are in their 3rd year. The adult literacy program in Altamirano is also in its 3rd year and the 27 adults will complete their primary school education this year. We hope very much that funding will allow us to continue funding for these dedicated students and their instructor. Mujeres continues to fund workshops and eye exams, glasses and laptop computers. Three new valuable projects have been proposed and we are actively seeking grants and looking at more ways to fundraise because at the moment we are unable to take on more projects.
I have been proud to be a board member of Mujeres de Maiz Opportunity Foundation since its inception. All of us on the board have traveled to Chiapas, Mexico at least once, where we have had the opportunity to connect with the women who are being empowered to further their education and share what they know with the other members of their communities. 91% of the money we have accumulated with our fundraising efforts goes directly to the women. Each time we visit Chiapas we are able to see the number of scholarship recipients growing and an increase in programs and educational opportunities that the women are initiating in their communities and with each other as a sewing cooperative.
I was introduced to this organization several years ago. Since that time, I have been increasingly impressed with the work they have done and how they have progressed and grown. I feel as though my donations have been put to good use, as they began by funding scholarships for a few girls in the Chiapas area and are now able to fund an increasing number of scholarships. Added to the program have been the provisions of paying for eye exams and glasses, programs on dental health, women's literacy programs and Saturday children's literacy programs. I have also been to Chiapas and personally witnessed the difference these programs are making in the lives of the young women there.