This year the Tihueliske We Can! Education Program for Women will help a minimum of 30 people living in acute poverty to gain skills for life in Tlamacazapa, Mexico. Village women gain literacy and numeracy skills while learning about human rights, equality and personal development. Local young educators use newly developed modules to guide the classes, complete with exercises and drawings relevant to rural life. Each class provides opportunity for good progress and stimulating discussions.
The 6,200 Nahua villagers of Tlamacazapa earn a meager living by weaving palm baskets. While the acute poverty and lack of water were easy to see, Atzin gradually put together a picture of complicated environmental toxicity. Laboratory studies revealed toxic metals in their water, soil, palm dyes and clay cooking pots, producing a silent crisis of slow poisoning. More than half of adult women remain illiterate, limiting their abilities to be informed and to participate in village affairs.
The Tihueliske We can! Literacy Program for Women helps adults to learn to read, write and do basic math. Developed especially for rural women, the program is taught by local trained educators. Eight modules combine literacy with ideas about human rights, equality and personal development, such as the right to education or to security and peace. By the end, students will be able to read and write a short paragraph, write their full name, tell time, and do simple addition and subtraction.
Overall the program effectively supports a new "culture of reading and rights" in the village and prepares women to help tackle the serious social and environmental problems in future. Consider the heart of the puzzle: a sense of empowerment always begins with a spark of possibility and grows from within. No one can empower another person or give them a richer spirit or life. The nurturing of that inner spark is the true work of education, opening up pathways of possibility.