Though we speak most often of the socio-economic effects of government marginalization toward Indigenous communities, sometimes the geographical effects are the first towering hurdle in the path to empowerment. The Maya community of Pajá is a clear example. Located an hour’s drive outside of La Nueva Santa Catarina Ixtahuacán, Sololá, Pajá is very difficult to access by car, and most of the roads were formed over time by those traveling on foot. In spite of this isolation, members of the Pajá community witnessed the benefits accessed by neighboring communities through a partnership with AMA, and, led by 28 year-old Manuela Tum, Paja’s first women’s circle formed. Hand in hand with the wonderfully enthusiastic mission team from Pittsboro United Methodist Church, community members constructed 6 improved, fuel-efficient stoves, which will increase community health and give women the time they need to participate in AMA programming in Civic Participation, where they can work to identify and sustainably fulfill community needs.
We are all grateful to the Pittsboro team for their passion and support, honored to have had the chance to share the beauty of Maya history & culture, and thrilled to have the circle of Pajá join the network of over 150 empowered women making change in this region.