I’m getting so bad at blog updates, must mean I’m close to coming home! I officially have less then six months left, but the project is getting busy.
We finally started construction on the chocolate factory. The women always used the word casita, meaning little house, to describe their workspace, now that things are moving, they believe in their business and are using the word fabrica o planta, meaning factory. Their computer was delivered last week, which we start classes on next week. Their spirits are electric, after 15 years of hard, unpaid labor, they are finally seeing their vision realized.
There are plenty of bumps along the way. I was worried this week things were slowing down, the women getting disengaged because of the bumps but like always they rose to the challenge. The architect’s design wasn’t detailed like they wanted, the workers don’t always show up, the water project has gotten disorganized and the women work almost everyday to make enough product to meet the demand. I was worried they were getting burnt out, I was getting burnt out but today they had new batteries.
When I walked up to the workspace at our normal workspace the women already were together, hands on their hips, arms flailing, mouths moving a mile a minute, I knew something was going on. The workers didn’t show up for work again on the fabrica and the water hadn’t come through the pipes for weeks. Before they even asked for my advice they were calling the workers bosses and got them taken off the project and new people put on. Tomorrow they have plans for the water bosses.
I’ve learned so much from these women’s strength. They aren’t loud and boisterous. They don’t demand your respect; they earn it. They don’t boast about their accomplishments, they show them to you. They have a silent grace and power about them that I admire. The way they protect their community and their families without anyone even realizing they are doing it. These women have let me into every part of their lives, I’ve gotten to see their inner workings, and they really are astonishing.
There’s a theory in development that believes by focusing on betterment of the lives of women in a community, that they will in turn share their benefits and bring the rest of the village up to their level: children, spouses, elders, disabled. Throughout my service I’ve seen this happen. I don’t know how the women stretch money, clothes, food and water so far, but they do. In my last post I was worried about what the women would do when I was gone. They may not do everything by the book when I’m gone, but I have no doubt they’ll be fine. Their generosity, ingenuity and stamina continue to amaze me, a year and a half into my service.