As was the case with our first group, Ajkem’a Loy’a, in San Lucas Toliman, this summer we have experienced our bit of small-town gossip, envy, and jealousy, and a translation of the personal into the professional as the women’s groups in Santiago Zamora have been created, dissolved, and reconfigured to the point where we had to have an intervention of sorts to see if we could all just peacefully work together.
This is the story…
In 2009 our student team helped a group of women in Santiago Zamora start a new association called Ixoki A’J ru xel Quiem. Some key people we should point out who were in that group (since they will return in our story) are Lucia, Maria, Hermelinda, Dina, Nancy, Lidia and Bernarda Maribel.
In fall 2009 we learned that this association had dissolved and that groups had split off.
In spring 2010 we called one of the numbers we had, Maria‘s, to start planning this year’s project. She confirmed that last year’s group had dissolved and that she had a group that included Lucia, Maria (herself), Nancy, Lidia and four other women.
In summer 2010 we met and started working with the association Ixoki A’J Quiemo L’ which Maria coordinates. As reported on the blog, we were working with them to support their community tourism program and their cooperative and community in general.
In the middle of the week I received a call from Hermelinda and later (not coincidentally, I think) bumped into Hermelinda and Dina (both participants from last summer’s project) on the bus coming back to Antigua and learned that last year’s association was still active. They didn’t have any activities but continued to work as a group and were expecting us to come back and meet with them. They proceeded to share more gossip about the women in the association we’ve been working with all week. So, we decided to host a meeting between the two groups, although not many women showed up. From last year, only Hermelinda, Dina, and Bernarda Maribel came and from this year, we had Maria, Meda, Delfina, and Leonarda.
It was clear during the meeting that last year’s group has really only come together again once they found out we were back in Guatemala, and after some group discussion about the pros and cons of collaboration it was clear that they understood that making one large group would strengthen and better support the work they can get done. And when given the opportunity, Hermelinda, Dina, and Bernarda Maribel said they would like to just join this year’s group.
Now that has all been clarified, we are working steam ahead to continue what we had started, with a group that has three new members, is still coordinated with Maria, and with whom we are drafting a letter which they will all sign indicating that membership will not change without advising members of DEED back in New York. This way, these changes in the group won’t catch us by surprise once we’re back, but we will stay privy to the details throughout the year.