Monday, January 31, 2011

First Womens Group Meeting!

Last Saturday I had my very first official women´s group meeting where I taught a group of 8 women from my community how to monederos (or change purses) out of plastic chip bags. Trash is a major problem everywhere in the world and no less so in my site. People either throw trash onto the ground or they collect it and burn it. Recycling is basically unheard of although there are some NGOs in my pueblo that are trying to focus on environmental education and recycling programs in the schools. So since there are tons of chip bags of every color imaginable, it makes it super easy for people to do recycled art. Recycled art is my new passion. It´s easy, cheap or free to make since you can basically pick your materials off the street and it´s great for the environment. I have made a couple of change purses and one clutch (women´s big wallet) out of churro bags as we call them here and everyone I have showed them to wants to buy one. So hopefully my women´s group will also be able to sell all the monederos we make. My womens group is small, about 8 women altogether and sometimes they bring their kids as well. They started off the group wanting to start a savings account of sorts and it has turned into a twice monthly get together for them to have some time away from their husbands and do fun things together. They are of all ages, one women being almost 80 years old and another member is a younger girl, probably no older than 18 with a kid of her own. They also save a lot of money over the year, putting in about $1 every 15 days and they don’t touch the money until the year is over. The first meeting I went to, just as a guest, they were splitting up the funds for the year and each woman had saved over $20. They also have an emergency fund that they put $.20 into every meeting which they can use if someone in the community or in their group gets sick, etc. They are a really fun group to hang out with. They love to joke around and make things together. The monederos were a big hit and the next meeting we will be putting together a gift basket that we are selling raffle tickets for for Valentine´s Day in order to raise enough money to buy materials to make shampoo next. It felt really awesome to be able to teach them how to do something so basic and fun so that they can make more money for their group and eventually for each other as well. I can´t wait to make shampoo with them and start selling it in the community. Later we will be making jewelry at one meeting and bread at the next. Usually I enjoy hanging out with younger kids, youth and in the states I have a lot of guy friends. Being in El Salvador has been the first time that I have really spent so much quality time with women and it´s actually really fun. When they are just together in their own little group, they open up a lot more and you get to see them more as the individuals they are instead of their husband´s wives, as society tends to define all women here (in my community) from the time they are born.

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