Building the Future Together in Mexico

March 21, 2012

SimonaSimona belongs to the village of Morelos in the municipality of San Miguel El Grande, Sierra Mixteca, Oaxaca, México. She is 46 years old, strong and has a profound, penetrating gaze. Simona is considered a leader among the women in her village, but it has not always been that way. Simona once used to look down in the presence of men, especially in the presence of her husband, Andrés Aparicio.

Simona and Andrés have been married for more than 25 years. Andrés learned to make furniture and sold his wares in San Miguel El Grande while Simona took care of their children and harvested vegetables – onions, lettuce and radishes – on their small plot of land. The farming went well for a time, until a scarcity of water made it impossible for Simona to continue harvesting. To supplement their income, Andrés decided to include Simona in the furniture sales. Following the instructions of her husband, she accompanied him to San Miguel El Grande and, like she assumed all wives should, she did “what my husband told me to do.”

The Hunger Project (THP)-México arrived in Simona’s village of Morelos in 2010. From the very beginning, Simona was present in every THP workshop. It took a few days for her to gain confidence and give an opinion on issues that mattered to her, but gradually she was able to express her feelings, discovering that these feelings where very similar as the ones of other women in the village. Now she feels safer and more united with the women and the men of her village. At home, Simona’s relationship with her husband is now one of mutual respect. “Now I realize that my husband supports me, and I support him as equals,” she said.

In particular, Simona appreciates the health brigades that try to eradicate the prevailing alcohol problems in her village.

“The health brigades helped a lot. Before these, the women and the men drink a lot, had discussions, did not understand health care. But now everything is changing a little bit.”

Simona is excited when she talks about students visit from the Tecnologico of Monterrey, in June of 2011. Students heard that one of the priorities of the community was the efficient use of water, so they took samples of it to determine its quality and assess how the community could make a better use of this valuable resource.

“If the students tell us how we can make better use of the water, perhaps we can return to harvesting our own food,” Simona said.

As she was being interviews, it began to rain on the village. Simona smiles and prepares to go for her clothes that were drying in the sun. Before she leaves says to us:

“With the support of THP I realize that we don’t build just furniture, now we build our future and the future of our children.”

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March 21, 2012