Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Introduction Meeting

Together DHF and AFIDER held our first meeting with the women involved in village banking (a total of nearly 200 women). My goal was to clarify my work with them and gather their ideas of a starting point. I explained I was not here to offer any money, but rather offer support that they felt they needed to reach their goals and dreams. With money alone we will never get to where we want to be. We need the opportunity to grow, confidence, and knowledge of ourselves and our live hoods.
We had a turnout beyond my imagination. All 100 plus chairs were full - women, kids, babies, and their knitting projects were all there. We had an agenda, and followed it, but when it came time for me to lead the "brainstorming" activity it got a little crazy. Maybe I didn't explain it well, we had too many women, or it was just too interactive/new/different for the women? Although it became chaotic, at the end of the activity the women had made long lists of themes that they wanted to learn about this year (both to help them with their business and personal life). Some of the most popular ideas were exporting goods to the U.S., women's health issues, and learning how to read and write. We also inaugurated a new village bank and held elections for the "comite" of all the banks. We ended the afternoon with coffee and cachangas (yummy fried bread treats), which put the whole room into total chaos. And I am thinking to myself how can I make this more organized?, when really we all agreed at the end of the day that everything turned out just as it should. No the coffee didn't arrive on time and not every women participated in writing down her own idea, but I felt an intense energy that great things can happen this year.

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