Thursday, October 28, 2010

Taking the First Step

Village Bank President, Luz, overseeing the group's payment (gray sweater)

Since September I’ve been visiting each of our twelve village banks, introducing myself and getting to know the women one by one. On Tuesday, I visited village bank Lucecitas (little lights) to witness the second payment of their first loan cycle. Their president, Luz Perez, (bless her heart!) made a huge blunder and turned away her village bank socias thinking that their meeting was scheduled for Thursday. By the time we arrived, only four women remained. So after leaving their payments with the treasurer and agreeing to hold the president responsible for collecting the remainder, we decided to have a quick chat. Three of the eight women are extremely active, attending Hope House activities on an almost weekly basis. Out of curiosity I decided to ask the non-active women their reasons for such poor attendance. During the conversation we heard a laundry list of excuses from one particular woman, Marina. She mentioned that she didn’t have time in the afternoons; that the jewelry classes were not meant for women her age; and on and on. After some words of encouragement by our village bank promoter, Elizabeth, and a quick review of our activities for the month of November, Marina and two other women signed up for one of our jewelry classes. Afterwards, Marina confided in me that from the very beginning, she’s wanted to participate in Hope House activities but due to her husband’s jealousy, she’s been prohibited. However, that day, she decided to take a first step and enroll herself regardless of his opinion. I’m keeping my fingers cross that she shows up as planned. Unfortunately, for many of our women, male head of households can be a major road block to their own advancement. It’s extremely difficult to find a solution or even mitigate the effects of machismo here in Peru. Sometimes the first step is having the woman make a personal decision to do things differently. I’ll keep you posted on Marina’s case.


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