“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Editor’s Note: Katherine asked us if we would help publicize a small sale of artesanias that the women of Impulsur are having at the end of the month in Merida. We thought the best way to do that would be to tell you something about the project, so Katherine was kind enough to give us this report. If you are interested, please do help support these women by attending their sale on Sunday, January 26 in Garcia Gineres. Exact information can be found in the Coming Soon section of our Events listing this week, or in our Month At a Glance Calendar.
Women in Southern Merida
In an increasingly globalizing economy sometimes we become lost in our transactions. It is so easy to get caught up in the routine of school or jobs that we find ourselves becoming not people-centered, but transaction-centered. In my senior year of college, amidst graduate school applications and trying to finish out the semester, I was certainly transaction-centered. I found myself losing focus on the people in my life that are most important to me. Sometimes all you need to reset your focus is a shake-up in your environment. A change of scenery will provide that impetus, and certainly my environment was shaken when I came to Mérida for my internship.
For my internship, I am working with an organization called ImpulSur: Manos Unidas por el Sur (Hands United for the South). The organization works with women living in southern Mérida, primarily in the section called Emiliano Zapata Sur, to empower them to market their products to a wider audience and get fair prices for their work. The women who make up ImpulSur are very talented and all have unique specialties. Some of the women work with knitting, some make huipils, others raise plants, make hammocks, paint, and make party decorations… just to name a few things they are capable of. What I have learned in working with these women is that although the purpose of ImpulSur is to empower these women to sell their products, the transaction is not what drives them. It is the relationships they have built with one another that are their impetus.
When I arrived in Mérida I met the women in ImpulSur to get to know them and see their handicrafts. Immediately I was welcomed into their group and they extended to me the same graciousness and respect they seem to share with each other. In just a few days of knowing each other, some of them felt comfortable sharing their personal stories with me. Because we are so open with one another, as they are with each other, we found common ground through laughter and through tears, which I believe has created a strong bond between us. I filmed many of the women while they talked to me about their lives, discussing everything from their families to why they thought ImpulSur was important. For almost every single woman, when I asked her why she participates in the group, she said it was because it allowed her to do something she enjoyed. One of the women commented to me, saying, “If you do what you love, everything will go well.” This struck a chord especially because I recently have been frustrated by my school applications, tending to forget that learning is my passion in the midst of the stress and pressure.
Emiliano Zapata Sur, where most of these women live, is a dangerous neighborhood that has problems with violence and drug use. Many of the women told me that making their handicrafts serves as a distraction for them from these problems. Through ImpulSur, they come together and support one another. They are comfortable with each other and know one another’s families. As I went from house to house, getting to know each woman, I could see the mutual respect they shared from the way they talked about the organization and the products their friends created. It did not take me long to realize the focus of this organization was on the relationships built there. They come together to make their handicrafts but more importantly, they come together because they care about one another.
My experience working with these women reminded me to slow down and focus on the people in my life and to be thankful for what I have. These women have inspired me because, although they lead lives that are so different from mine, they too love their lives and seem appreciative of what they have, especially of one another.
The Impulsur Event
On Sunday, January 26th, ImpulSur will be holding an event at the office of the Fundación Plan Estragética de Yucatán, the planning of which has been the focus of my internship. The women will have their handicrafts available for sale. During this event, we hope to continue the focus on relationships, as opposed to transactions, with other people in the Mérida community. Because these women live and work so far in the south of the city, often times people in the community do not know they are there or how talented they are. This event will be an opportunity for the women to show off what they make and to share the same mutual respect and graciousness that guides their group with you and others who attend the event. Please come!