One of the ways we connect our kids to people in the communities we visit is to partner with potent local nonprofits. This August, En Vía in Oaxaca expertly hosted seven 13-year-old girls from our Riveted Girls camp. Using their words: “En Vía is a non-profit organization that works to empower women to better support themselves and their families.” They provide interest-free loans and business training for women, so they can thrive in their endeavors. If you are moved after reading this post, consider a donation to empower the wonderful women of Oaxaca!
Eda and Sophia were our En Vía guides. They facilitated the perfect sharing of ideas and conversation between our girls and a group of talented women and girls from San Miguel. You can see from the photos how much fun we had. In addition to giving girls from both countries real windows into each others’ lives, Eda and Sophia’s life paths showed our girls ways that they could live their lives as adventurous young women and use their relative privilege for the greater good. We asked some of our girls to put pen to paper to share the experience from their perspectives.
Her beaming smile matched the vibrant color swirling in and out of the flowers in her skirt, plastered among the blue checkers, dancing among the lilies and hibiscus. Next to her sat another woman with yellow flowers and green leaves with gold thread embroidered between the apron’s flowers. Six women sat above us talking about their experience and their day-to-day life.
Sophia translated their answers into English for us to understand, and our questions into Spanish. Before answering, they would talk amongst themselves in Zapotec, the language in that region that had been around for thousands of years. Then they asked us questions, and were interested in what our home was like, and what the differences were. They wanted to know what kind of music we liked and played us some of their favorites. We learned that each one of them had 15-30 aprons in their closet. In the town of San Miguel, all the women wore colorful and elaborate aprons. It was the small town’s own stamp of uniqueness and they were widely known for it.
Walking on the street women were clustered in doorways, a tangle of reds, greens, purples, blues, flowers, leaves, thread, and cloth. It was unlike anything any of us had ever seen. After getting to know each other, we played rock-paper-scissors, otherwise known as piedra-papel-tijeras. We partnered up with a girl from San Miguel and had mini tournaments and created teams. We played several other games that were so fun because we got to connect with the women/girls with laughter and smiles.
It was an experience that we would never had gotten to have without En Vía. Afterwards we sang a song, Count on Me by Bruno Mars, and we bought some of their aprons. I had such an amazing time that I will remember forever. Instead of learning about their culture we got to experience it and that was very special.
Meeting Sophia and Eda and learning about En Vía was an eye-opening experience. Not only did I learn about the program, but I met some of the women who participate in it. I had never heard of an organization like this before. It gives women in the community a very unique opportunity to get out of poverty and grow their own businesses. One of the coolest parts of this experience was that we got to ask some of the women in the program questions and we were able to connect with them through games even though we did not speak the same language. Overall, this was a very meaningful experience and I would love to do something like it again.
The EnVía tour allowed me to really get an inside look on these local women’s careers and was overall a very interesting experience. It was very cool to see how this nonprofit organization was able to supply loans, although small, to so many women. It was inspirational to me to see how this organization not only educated women on how run a successful business but also helped them execute their plans. I’m thankful to EnVía for providing a window into these women’s lives.
My En Vía experience made me want to come back after college and volunteer. When we met the women who’d worked with En Vía in this little town we met someone who’d been running a restaurant. She’d had a ton of amazing food and her daughter was just amazingly kind. After lunch we met the women who made aprons and it was like seeing a community of people just in those couple of women and girls. We played some games with them and asked questions about them and their business. What I loved about En Vía is how organized they were and how they had a laugh with all the women and young girls. I wish that I could go back now and see more woman who’ve started their business with En Vía. What I loved was that En Vía only worked with women so we got to learn about them and how they thought En Vía was helping them.
We were so lucky to work with this effective organization. They shared a window into part of the world that most people don’t ever get to see and opened our girls’ hearts to these talented young women. One of the best parts of the experience was that we walked away thinking how similar we were to each other on a human level even though on the surface we are so different. Consider a donation to empower the wonderful women of Oaxaca!