Post written by Hannah Whalen Fuentes
“As women achieve power, the barriers will fall. As society sees what women can do, as women see what women can do, there will be more women out there doing things, and we’ll all be better off for it.”-Ruth Bader Ginsberg
On March 8th, 2023, in Quetzaltenango, Yabal and Mayamam administrators and coordinators held a commemorative event, bringing together administrative teams, all the women artisans, coordinators, and community leaders from both organizations. During this event, we collaborated to bring attention to essential topics that are important to our personal and organizational growth: teamwork and good communication. Through an interactive learning experience and the help of a translator for those who speak solely K’iche, we were able to review these topics with the women weavers and participants and remind them why we are here and what keeps us going.
In general, the artisans from each organization have not had a chance to meet each other and learn about what the other is doing. This event made that possible and was also successful in supporting the women to reflect inward about their individual role within their communities and with their fellow artisans and to think about how they work as a team to reach their goals when it comes to their work. In addition, they could reflect on how avoiding problems and focusing on the positive will allow us to advance with more energy.
One of the activities that was held during this gathering was one where participants had to run from one side to the other. Two volunteers stood, one on each side of an invisible line in the grass. One held a paper with a happy face and on the other side, they held the sad face. The coordinator of the activity shouted a word, from a list of several words related to daily life, then translated to K’iche, and the women had to decide how that word made them feel: happy or sad. Most of the women would pick the same side, in agreeance with how these words made them feel. The words listed were then further connected to how they related or could contribute to good communication, or not.
The participants were then split into groups where they discussed how they used good communication in their work and a leader chosen from each group summarized what they discussed with the larger group. We then paused to enjoy a break and some fresh watermelon.
Afterwards, the coordinators of Mayamam took over with a mini- presentation and shared how they work as a team. They talked about how they each oversee a different department and what their responsibilities include in the areas of production, sewing, quality control, and finances.
Our final activity was telephone, where women lined up and passed along a special message: You are a strong and valued woman! After group discussions led by both Yabal and Mayamam coordinators, we shared a ‘churrasco’ meal and enjoyed the fresh air outside.
One of the community leaders expressed that she enjoyed the gathering and experience at this event. She felt like she was able to do some reflection and wants to work to improve her communication with her group. She also shared how they do not often get to participate in an activity like this plus to have a chance to take a break from regular activities, be together, and enjoy a change of scene was valuable for her and the group. She was grateful this event was made possible.
At Yabal, we are passionate about continuing to empower women through our activities, social programs, and providing fair paying work for the communities with which we work closest. We look forward to more activities like this that advance our programs and the quality of support for women weavers and artisans.
Thanks for reading!