Here are more photos from our Mexico trip! While in Oaxaca, we took a tour with Fundación en Vía. This organization provides interest-free micro-loans to women in the area. They organize tours of the businesses run by these women. The women participate in these tours as part of the requirements for their loan funding. The $50 fee we each paid went directly to funding loans. They are combining tourism with micro-finance and it's working very well.
We and eight other tourists spent a fascinating afternoon visiting businesses with some of the volunteers who run the organization. The women explained their enterprises in Spanish, and the volunteers translated. The ladies were very welcoming and gracious, and rightly proud of their work.
This woman runs a tortilla shop out of her home, and used a loan to buy this corn to make torillas...
When I asked if I could take her photo, she was happy to oblige and pose. I told the volunteer to tell her in Spanish that she was a supermodel, which made her laugh!
They had the cutest dog living there that hung out on the roof, peering down at us.
Here is the machine that makes the corn tortillas. When I was in Oaxaca, I bought a tortilladora (tortilla press) of my own to make tortillas by hand
The corn is soaked over heat before it is ready to be made into tortillas.
They sell for about a US dollar per kilogram!
Note dog munching on a stale tortilla in the background.
This little pullet was also wandering around, helping herself to treats from the reject pile!
Scale for weighing tortillas.
And what have we here?
Why it's a turkey brooder! Ingenious!
Across the street we visited a pharmacy...
Here is the owner with her daughters, graciously posing for photos.
In Mexico, a lot of drugs that would require prescriptions in Canada and the US are instead available over the counter.
A loan from Fundación en Vía enabled the women to buy a display case worth of inventory for her pharmacy.
The tortilla shop doggy came over to sit with us!
We also went to chat with a woman who sells vegetables and fruit at various market stalls Her loan enabled her to buy more produce to sell. Here she is with a big bundle of garlic she was about to take to the market.
And here is her cute chihuahua, taking a little nap.
Finally, we visited women who weave. "Women who weave"-- I like that!
A rug on the loom.
Carding wool roving before spinning it.
They offered to let us try carding. Of course I had to give it a go. I was bloody useless at it; I think I was just trying too hard! But it was fun and we all had a good laugh.
Here's another of the women mixing up dye ingredients.
And another beautiful rug!
If you would like to learn more about Fundación en Vía and maybe make a donation, visit their website. We were very impressed with the work they are doing. I set up a monthly Paypal donation for them after we got home. What is a little bit of money to us is a LOT to these women! It's amazing the change an interest-free loan can make in a someone's life. Their default rates (about 7 out of 500) are impressively low.
Gordon wrote a very good post about this group on his blog as well, If you want to read more about what's going on, Fundación en Vía also has a blog.
I only wish I spoke Spanish so that I could have communicated directly with these wonderful, hardworking women. If you're near Oaxaca, I highly recommend you take a tour. It's the #2 tour attraction on TripAdvisor for Oaxaca,
And my thoughts are with everyone down there after the earthquake that hit the area this past week. Fingers crossed that none of these women suffered any danage to their homes or businesses.