Oxlajuj B’atz’ Hosts Dining for Women Members at Lake Atitlan

Panajachel, Solola,Guatemala – 12NOV14
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Two women from, Dining for Women came to visit last week. They were on unrelated missions and did not know each other (until later.)  Judy Duggan and Lynn McLenahan each took the time to drop in at Oxlajuj B’atz’ offices to ask questions, visit the shop and meet with some of the artisans.

Earlier, the OB office had been examining the International Quilt Show site and wondering what it would take to make such detailed, non-traditional quilts in the communities.The Grand Prize winning quilt ($10,000USD) loked as if it were at least Queen sized. Could Oxlajuj B’atz’ women ever find enough space to layout and assemble the myriad materials?  And, more important, would there be handicraft buyers for such an expensive and suitcase hogging item.  The understated 1st prize winner resembled a 19th century lithograph. It was almost a Currier and Ives landscape — complete with exact village houses and suggestions of others set on distant hills.  A sparkling river winds under bridges at sundown.  Every cloud, the top hatted pedestrians and each illusion of reflection and vast space had been created with thousands of gossamer and gingham swaths of cloth.

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Days later, Judy would unknowingly reignite this conversation. She showed us a photo of a seven panel quilt hung together as a blazing wall hanging.  The 1’x4’ banners were each from a different country supported by DFW. The elements were relatively small and because that size might be possible – the photo was mighty inspirational.  Each of them packed an authentic punch by using photos printed on fabrics, local materials and embroidered words.  There was even one from Guatemala with the familiar three high pyramid and strong geometrics. Judy had won the quilt and was traveling around to the places it represented gathering material for her book about it.

See QuiltDIVAS/caption]

She had come to further study “Women Empowering Women” so, Lucia sat her and down and told about how OB does it one workshop at a time with the artisans. In five years OB has trained women in self-esteem, imparted organizational and leadership skills, developed a radical sense of entrepreneurship and, best, caused these trainings to be replicated by the recipients.   The OB model develops diagnostic criteria, targets a skill set based on that and, then, rolls out the program to be tweaked, mastered and shared.  Ana gave Judy a synopsis of some preliminary results of a recent survey.  (They showed that although income had OB initiatives doubled income among the artisans, they were still making less than half the minimum wage — set at about $90 – a month.)

Last October, Lynn had come to Guatemala with DFW and she was welcomed anew to the expanded headquarters.  A Mayan mini-ceremony (complete with pine and candles) completed her review of “heritage” projects blooming at the lake.  Later, she introduced her husband, Greg, to the women of Las Rosas cooperative in Patanatic.

Their paths crossed in front of the fire at  Jenna’s B&B and they were able to recap what they were experiencing.  Judy’s trip continues to Asia and Africa to revisit other contributing communities.  While Lynn and Greg settled in down and started working on Mayan Families’ efficient wood burning stove project for a while. They will be back

Both visits had been focused on meeting the needs of Oxlajuj B’atz’ community and OB hoped that they got a real sense of the value of their contribution.
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Preparing for Medical Outreach in Solola, Guatemala 19-23AUG14

invitation to the pueblo

invitation to the pueblo

Doctoral candidate Joan Boccino, L.Ac., is leading a team of Traditional Chinese Medical practitioners and their students to the Mayan Highlands. These 23 generous people will be treating with TCM and training community health providers and first responders in the NADA Protocol. Joan has been donating her talents, here, for almost four years and , now, is developing an auricular protocol for Diabetes. Global Clinic will serve the communities of Panajachel, Panimache, Patanatic and San Antonio Palpolo with the support of several other NGOs and local businesses.

Prior Posts on Global Clinic  - Santa Cruz del Quiche
Brave Team Treats Quiche Maya
Mayan Women are Empowered to Defend Themselves by a Black Belt 
Acupuncturists Launch Sustainable Treat and Train Mission in Guatemala 
Mayans Rediscover Acupuncture at Centro de Paz Barbara Ford
Acupuncturists Treat 1,000 Patients in Santa Cruz del Quiche, Zacualpa and San Filipe
Meetings with Remarkable Mayans

Day 6: Character Building A portrait

Rosa was going with our friends from the NGO to translate Spanish-Queche Maya..did I want to ride to Penemache to visit?

“Oh, si.”

Once there, I was distracted by the line of traditionally clad, barefoot women waiting in the sharp Winter sun. The light was desperately harsh, even the shadows glared. I had given up on photos, when I saw this gorgeous old woman crossing back into a room.

I had no way to ask if I could take her portrait.

Rosa was too busy.

Then, I heard her cough -raw from 80 years of dust and cooking on open fires…I showed her, with gestures, that I wanted to give her percussion like we do for cystic fibrosis. With my cupped hands I patted her back listening for the most productive areas and asked someone bring water for her. She was breathing a little smoother when I stood up. We smiled, I bowed and put the camera on my shoulder.  I pantomimed the request … She agreed.

I look at her face all the time reflecting on the kindness it shows.

Wondering how she survived the thirty year armed conflict fomented by my country and kept this grace and good humor.

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Lost Art: Wu Style Tai Chi

She began moving with unique fluidity but ….concentrating.

“What are you doing?”

“Tai Chi.”

“What is that?”

“It’s a kind of martial art.”

“Looks like a dance. How did you learn it?”

“We meet Wednesdays and Saturdays on 17th and 6th.”
imageI went to the next session and studied with Joshua Whiting for the next couple of years. Before he discovered a Wu style class in a Chinatown park, the master had been a professional dancer on Broadway. He would enter the studio in his unremarkable street clothes and change into Chinese white pajamas. And, when he assumed his place In front, he appeared positively ageless and ultra venerable. The master told us 20 somethings that he was more than 60.

To remember 108 Forms I assigned my own names to sequences and developed a dance notation. Joshua told me that only one other student did that a couple of years before and he became very famous for walking a tightrope between the Twin Towers : Philippe Petit.

The indoor class met at the Nadine Ravine Studio for Dance, so, once in a while some ballet types would try a post barre stretch with us. The pink Divas were dabblers but two black leotarded jazz dancers were already regulars along with Joshua’s girlfriend, Lev, an Orthodox Jew and two of his fightin’ Brooklyn buddies. Outdoors, we met under the Brooklyn Bridge. The classes always seemed sweltering no matter where they were.

Beginning was almost like performance, there was this moment when we started counting breaths that felt as if the curtain was about to come up. We sweated the details and exercised as one and after years the sequence breathed in my bones. On a secluded overlook in Mexico I stepped thru it perfectly. After that, the 1980’s dawned and I lost the practice.

With an incomplete set of notes, I practice on my back porch. I may never remember it all but, with the help of assortment of Digital Masters, I am reclaiming bits of this sense memory, this art.