By Elizabeth Macias Rojo, Volunteer, Program Manager
Gaining first-hand experience in the fascinating world of micro-finance was an amazing opportunity for me. As a volunteer Program Manager I had the opportunity to work on various projects within the organization: I taught English and recruited volunteer tutors from around the world, I worked on marketing campaigns to spread the word about this new micro-finance organization in one of the poorest states of Mexico, I managed the organization’s financial database, and my favorite part of it all, I connected with the women of Teotitlán del Valle and Villa Diaz-Ordaz through our borrower meetings and tours.
In the six months that I have been working with the organization I have seen it grow in various ways. We increased our class attendance in our free English program, implemented a new business-training class, launched our microfinance program in a new town - Villa Diaz-Ordaz, and most excitingly, became incorporated as a non-profit in Mexico.
I feel honored to have had the opportunity to be a part of it all, but more significantly I have seen how micro-finance can help a community by empowering women and allowing them to use the skillS they have to get themselves out of poverty and improve the livelihood of their family and community. After six months of getting to know the women, I feel like they have welcomed me into their community with warmth and now, when walking around the town the women greet me with a gentle two-hand handshake and the Zapotec word for good evening, “xac shi,” and a running “hello” and big hugs from the children.
I came to Oaxaca and joined En Vía’s volunteer program looking for field experience in international development, but what I gained was much more than I expected. I was able to get in touch with my roots, learn about indigenous communities in Mexico and be a part of something great.