Since 2012 PAZA supporters have rallied around 2 heart touching causes outside of our textile focus.
The first outside cause was to assist Noemi Chavez, a high school graduate from Huancarani, complete her training as a nursing technician. Her first year of the program at the Instituto de Educación Rural (IER) was voided because the government changed the certification process. Halfway through the repetition of the first year the management of her “scholarship” changed hands and monthly payments that were supposed to be deferred until after graduation became due. With 7 younger children at home her parents did not have the $60 a month for tuition, room, board, and expenses.
An S.O.S. went out on the PAZA blog and Noemi was sponsored for the last year and a half of the program and the costly certification process. The day after her June graduation she was on a bus headed to a job interview in Santiago, Chile. She returned to Independencia in August while her passport paperwork was processed, and spent much of her time working on the family farm in Huancarani. She commented that her new work place is more technologically advanced and organized than any of the hospitals where she interned.
This empowered confident young woman took it upon herself to attend the annual district municipal budget meeting to represent the women of District 4 (which includes Huancarani). Since the enactment of the Law of Popular Participation in 1994 men have participated in the process and become adept at negotiating for funding for community development projects. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the rural women.
In 2007, the budget item specified for the development of women’s crafts (including the traditional weavings) in the 9 districts of the municipality of Independencia was $925. In 2008, I attended a meeting at the Centro Sindical in Independencia where a partner non-profit organization presented a workshop to guide the women authorities to plan, request, and receive a budget of 130,000Bs. ($18,731). The share of that budget for the women of District 4 was 30,000 Bs. ($4,322). Under the current political administration that has been in power since 2010, that craft budget has not been used wisely and has decreased.
Noemi negotiated for 20,000 Bs. ($2,880) for the women of District 4 doubling it from the 10,000 Bs. the men were set to approve. At our workshop in Huancarani in August, she appraised the weavers of the budget meeting. Following a discussion the weavers asked if PAZA could contract the facilitator from the 2008 Centro Sindical budget workshop (who has remained a PAZA consultant) to meet with them in Huancarani to help them to reorganize their Organization of Women and make a plan for productive use of the 2015 budget.
What Noemi has accomplished in a few short months since her June graduation is proof of the ripple effect of education. Identifying herself as a professional gives her the courage to stand up and speak out. A huge thank you and hug to all of you who helped her so she can help herself and others.
The second outside cause was to raise funds to help with the medical expenses for 6 year old Joel Cachi who underwent surgery a year ago to remove brain tumors. Joel will travel with his mother to Cochabamba when the family can afford a medical evaluation. For lack of a physical therapist in Independencia, she was taught exercises after his surgery and during subsequent visits to the city to be able to work with him daily. Although he’s improved dramatically over the year he still drags his right leg. The medical evaluation will determine what’s next including whether or not Joel will be entering kindergarten in February. I observed him last week as he helped his father restucco the Club de Artesana workshop/PAZA store and played with the Club kids. There is something special about that little boy. He has 5 siblings and the family still struggles with debt from the surgery so I put no parameters on the $650 received in support. Joel´s father informed me that he deposited all the funds in the local financial cooperative to save for the upcoming medical evaluation. He asked if I could please put out one more call for support to help with the medical evaluation and travel expenses of around $1,600. The family asked that their sincere thanks be expressed again to George and Joyce Dutcher, Sherry Yeakel, Joe Stevens, Susie Strauss, and Ruth Scharf. Dorinda Dutcher, September 23, 2014