Machismo, which generally refers to strong or aggressive masculine pride, holds a great presence in Tlamacazapa, which has oppressed women into anonymity. Although the concept may considered to be outdate in the United States, it remains to be a common belief in Tlamacazapa that the men are the head of the household, which leaves without power and responsible for all household chores. Disagreement or disobedience frequently results in spousal abuse, which is escalated by the high occurrence of alcoholism in the town. Available public education only runs until middle school, which is taught through television programming which is inconsistent due to an occasional lack of signal. A common way to earn a living in Tlamacazapa is by weaving ornate baskets out of palm leaves. The palm dye is another toxin that can affect ones health, and 3 days of work may produce one basket worth as little as $15 USD. After travel costs and other expenses, the income is hardly enough to buy beans and rice for a family, let alone send their children to study.
ATZIN is a nonprofit organization started in 1997, working more specifically with the women of Tlamacazapa to teach them self-sufficiency, strengthening the self, and rebuilding the community. ATZIN’s services include but aren’t limited to: family planning, health/dental care, education of youth and adults, midwifery, environmental and nutritional courses, and providing of food. We were fortunate enough to meet the scholarship students, educators, and organizers of ATZIN, who were some of the most brave and inspirational individuals I’ve ever met in my life. We were given tours throughout the town, carried water down the steep streets, and shared intimate moments with native families.
Although the trip was incredibly impactful, I think we all have to recognize that we only experienced one day in Tlamacazapa, not enough time to see the pain and struggle behind the shining smiles of the Tlamacazapans. I believe that seeing the difference between educating yourself on the realities of others or simply a good opportunity for a new Facebook photo album is of extreme importance.
Can you think of examples where poverty has been exploited or glamorized?
-- Galina Bruckner
-- Galina Bruckner