I just loved sharing the story of Cleo, and how she come to work as a paid staff member of The Hunger Project Mexico (THP).
Next up is Maribel, who is the Regional Program Manager, Oaxaca Office, THP – Mexico. Maribel (in my fave shade of green in the photo above) is bilingual, speaking both Mazateco (the local language in the Mazateca mountains) and Spanish – making her a key link (or ‘voice’) for the communities.
Maribel is leading the way in how a modern woman can live (and thrive!) in Mazateca – all while giving back and making a huge impact. She is 32 years old – and single. This is very uncommon in her culture, and this fact makes some people suspicious of her. Maribel has taken it a step further, and has fully committed to herself by buying herself an engagement ring as a sign of this commitment – how great is that?
Originating from Tenango, Maribel says she always enjoyed visiting the communities. During middle school, she did some work teaching children in communities – basic skills such as reading, writing, basic maths and Spanish (they spoke Mazateca). This meant that the children then had the basic skills they needed to go on to other schools, and continue their education. While teaching in the poorest of the poor communities, Maribel clearly saw what was missing in these people’s lives, and what changes had to be made.
One story Maribel told was of an 8 year old boy who she had taught when she was 15 years old. Child labour (where children would be sent away for 6 months work near the US border then go back home) was common in this particular community. This boy had come to Maribel and asked her to adopt him because he couldn’t live like that. This situation had obviously fuelled a passion within Maribel to impose change.
Maribel went away to study after this, and by the time she was finished, her brother was working with THP. This sparked an interest in her also working with them, but at that time they didn’t have the funds to employ her. She let them know that when it was possible – that she would love to come and work for them. And in 2011 she realised that dream.
Even though we heard this story through translators, I could see and hear the strength, courage and confidence coming through as Maribel was telling her story. She personifies leadership, and what can happen when someone isn’t afraid to defy the norm and forge ahead with their vision for a better future for others.
I’ll finish with a quote from Maribel:
“I am with THP because I want to be a key element in the promotion of the empowerment and leadership skills of the people in the rural communities of the Mazateca mountain so that they can be protagonists of their own development”
I travelled to Genova in Oaxaca with The Hunger Project Australia as part of the ‘Leadership & Immersion’ Program run in conjunction with Business Chicks. This post is written using my notes taken in Oaxaca as a guide. If you find that any of the facts contained in this post are misleading or incorrect please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.