Winter 2010 Trip to Chiapas
I just returned from 4 weeks in San Cristóbal de las Casas. The weather was great! A bit nippy at night in unheated rooms but intense blue sky and daytime temperatures about 70!
I arrived mid-November and had 10 days by myself to meet with Carmen (the coordinator of the cooperative), go to Crucero to do a mid-year evaluation of the Children's Project there, and network with people who live and work in Chiapas. Then Eric, my son, arrived, and three days later Linda Snow, Kathy Strozyk, Dr. Gene Turner and Cathy VanRuhan flew in and we were a group of six.
The Crucero Children's project is in its fifth month. Scholarship recipients Tere and Martha are the organizers and work with the children on academic skills and literacy in Tsotsil. Certified instructors come in for workshops and creativity development. The class, held every Saturday morning, is in a rudimentary building. There is no heat and the children were bundled up on this chilly, rainy day. Tere and Martha were helping the children with addition, subtraction and division. Only 13 children were in attendance due to the weather but usually there are 22. I was so impressed at the work ethic of the children who ranged from first to fourth grade. All participated and were very attentive.
After the group members arrived we all attended the December bi-monthly reunion of the women. The toothbrushes were dispersed (thanks, Soroptimists of Sequim!) as was the toothpaste (thanks to Michael Bucierka.) Three group members carried down 3 laptop computers which were given to the three new communities that have joined the cooperative. Thank you, Cathy, Kathy and Eric for your help carrying the laptops from the US. Dr. Gene Turner, retired pediatrician from Port Angeles, gave the women a talk about normal child development.He then took many questions about various issues and listened to hearts and lungs of several women with concerns. Thank you so much, Gene, for contributing your knowledge and expertise to the women in this workshop. It is much appreciated.
Each group member then joined a small group of women and exchanged some English expressions for Tsotsil or Tseltal expressions. Much fun was had by all as we all struggled to pronounce and remember the words in the other language.
That evening we were invited back for a traditional Posada. The Mexican tradition involves songs about Mary trying to find shelter in Bethlehem. We carried lit candles room to room and sang. Afterwards piñatas were broken and we all enjoyed wonderful chicken tamales.
Toward the end of the trip, we visited the Children's Project in Zinacantán. Juana, one of our university scholarship recipients, was leading the lesson on literacy in Tsotsil, the Maya language of that area. The children showed us the Spanish-Tsotsil dictionaries that they had made. At the end of the class we all participated in games, including "The Wolf in the Forest" game that involved a lot of running and shouting.
One of the most exciting aspects of the trip was that Carmen has found a house for sale that would be perfect for the women of the cooperative. As of now they rent a house for their bi-monthly reunions when they come in from their communities. The house Carmen found is very large, with room for workshops, bedrooms for students who must study in San Cristobal and lodge during the week,and a place for a store where the women could sell their handicrafts and clothing. I will be blogging again soon as soon as we get more details. I saw the house and think it would serve the women well. It is priced at $1 million pesos, about $90,000.
It was a wonderful trip. We are adding one more scholarship girl at this time (brings the total to 20) and are also funding the tables and tiny chairs that had to be purchased for the Crucero Children's Project...those were not initially in the proposal. Thanks to all of you for your generous support. Have a lovely holiday season.
Con cariño, Judith