November 29, 2012
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!
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