International Women’s Day 2013: A Dedication to the Women of AMA

To mark this year’s International Women’s Day here in HSP-AMA we wanted to dedicate this month to all of the inspirational women involved in AMA.

Here are some of their stories-

Vilma’s Story

Vilma (23) lives with her husband and their two children in her mother-in-law’s home in the community of Xecaracoj. Since joining AMA’s Women’s Circle Vilma’s life has been transformed.  She was involved in the production of an order of 300 handbags for export and most recently in the production of Pixan’s latest collection of accessories by a New York designer.  This is the first time Vilma has earned an income to help support her family.

Vilma is also a beneficiary of AMA’s healthy stove project. The stove empowers Vilma by allowing her to cook independently for her own family without having to depend on her mother-in-law. By speeding up her time in the kitchen, Vilma can take full advantage of the work opportunities that Pixan offers.

“I feel so lucky to have found AMA. In such a short time I have built a stove with international volunteers and I have been given the chance to earn my own money for the first time in my life.” 

Guadalupe’s Story

Guadalupe Ramirez, Founding Director of AMA has dedicated her life to increasing the opportunities for Native leadership roles, raising awareness of social justice issues confronting Native communities, and promoting a vision of environmental stewardship. Her vision and dedication to the Mission and Vision of AMA is what has kept AMA alive and ever moving forward.

Margarita’s Story

Margarita (27) lives in a community called Sector 8 of Llanos del Pinal with her parents and two siblings. Margarita is single. She has participated in her local Women’s Circle for the past 9 months and enjoys this space each week to share with other community members and learn new skills that offer her opportunities to earn an income. Last year she particularly enjoyed making marmalade and baking cakes. Margarita learnt how to sew as part of one of Pixan’s skills building programs. She is now employed by Pixan as a seamstress, producing handbags and pillow cases for export to the United States. Showing a lot of potential as an artisan, Margarita selected to participate in a two-day commercialization workshop, facilitated by Pixan.

“When AMA taught me how to embroider by hand it motivated me to learn more. We were taught about how to manage products, how to calculate a fair percentage as profit and we learnt about meanings behind our traditional dress which I didn’t know before.”

Margarita had the opportunity to participate in a recent product development workshop. She learnt how to make new products like AMA’s healthy stove oven gloves, something she never felt possible before. With the money she is now earning producing this collection Margarita tells us she wants to buy something for herself; a new apron traditionally worn in her community as part of the indigenous women’s dress. This small act of empowerment has a profound effect on women’s daily lives in a society where indigenous women have almost no economic freedom to spend money how they choose.

Juanita Hernandez

The multi-talented Juanita Hernandez began working in AMA in 2009 as an Administrative Assistant. Her talent quickly became apparent and she was promoted to the head of the administration, as well as the Health Program Coordinator. She is presently the Coordinator of Pixan and of Maya Viva.

Before her days in AMA, Juanita worked for thirteen year in the administration at a private neurology center in Quetzaltenango. After only one year of being employed by AMA, she realized that “the work here is sustainable and real; they put every penny to good use.”

Juanita wishes to continue with the wonderful opportunity she has to work with an organization like AMA, as she feels the freedom and encouragement to develop professionally and personally.

“Having worked for AMA for the past four years I have seen AMA’s community and administrative base grow. It has been a privilege to see women develop as artisans and community leaders, particularly through the workshops AMA offers to improve artisan’s technical and entrepreneurial skills.”

Catarina de Jesús Tuy 

One of the founding members of Pixan staff, Caty is a Community Technician communicating between the Quiche–speaking rural communities where AMA works and AMA’s headquarters. After taking a year off to have her baby Sandi, Caty and Sandi rejoined the team again in 2013 and the staff in AMA are over the moon to have a new addition to the team.

“Seeing how women’s lives are changed by the work AMA does and the income and training opportunities AMA offers, gives me motivation everyday to continue.”

Want to support AMA’s work to empower more women? Donate today via our justgive site.

Karen Mayorga