Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Connecting Our Threads

By Jo-Anne , Canada - Tour Alumnus and Volunteer English Teacher

The ‘nay sayers’ would have me never travel to Mexico.  Their minds full of the corruption and violence that has been reported.  But, like many countries, my own included, Mexico is so much more than its problems…

Two years ago I had the good fortune to visit Oaxaca.  During that trip, I joined a small group of like-minded individuals and spent a day with what was then a fledgling organization promoting responsible tourism and microfinance.  We headed out to Teotitlán, meeting with women in their homes and businesses.  My fee for the tour assisted in providing interest-free loans to a group of three women.  One was a young woman starting up a bakery, the second was adding stock to her small variety store and the third was a woman purchasing products to enhance her trade of traditional weaving.  The women’s stories, like threads, began to weave around my heart, and I knew something special was happening here, with these women and this organization.

Over the past two years, I have remained connected with Fundación en Vía through their regular updates.  Last year, I was delighted to read that Fundación en Vía had embraced a new program providing English classes to the women and children in Teotitlán.  To celebrate my recent retirement, I offered my enthusiasm and a one-month commitment to the program and was accepted as volunteer for the English program.

When I arrived to Oaxaca in January, I joined the current the group of volunteer English teachers, an eclectic mix of ages and nationalities all with same desire to make a difference in this community.  I was assigned to teach a group of mature women in the program. 

After a few weeks of teaching, I was strolling through one of the local markets in Oaxaca when I heard my name being called in a gentle voice.  It was one of the women in my group who had come in to the market for the day to sell her goods.  My delight grew exponentially when she started to show me her products using some of the English words we had studied together that week; small, bigger, yellow, and orange.  In that moment, I realized that the threads that had woven themselves around my heart and connected me to En Vía during my first visit were really part of a bigger tapestry, and that all of the borrowers, tourists and volunteers that have experienced En Vía, have contributed their own threads to this beautiful tapestry.

It is so easy to become weary of charitable organizations that have little impact, and abuse the trust we put in them, but I have experienced firsthand the honesty and commitment of Fundación en Vía.  Come and weave your life thread into our tapestry - we are creating a masterpiece. 


  1. Jo-Anne, this post gave me shivers. It's honest, beautiful and so very you. I love your spirit and your desire to help others. This organization sounds like it's well worth your time and energy and love.

  2. Jo-Anne
    Thanks for making a difference! You also made a difference to our time in Oaxaca. Thier website is very interesting
    Richard and Jean, Saskatoon

  3. Jo-Anne,

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story, and, more importantly, for the amazing impact you had on your students in Teotitlan.



  4. This moment in time that you captured Jo-Anne, is the true essence of the program. It is obviously a two-way street . The volunteers give the English lessons and get more than ever imagined in return from their students. It is a beautiful and worthwhile experience and one I too, will not forget. Thank you for sharing your thoughts so freely.
    Much appreciation from the "other" Joanne in Oregon.