How Chavela is helping change the life of her community

A Colombian child. Chavela, an LWF incentive worker, advocates for better living conditions for people in her community. Photo: LWF Colombia
A Colombian child. Chavela, an LWF incentive worker, advocates for better living conditions for people in her community. Photo: LWF Colombia

LWF incentive worker changing long-held attitudes to women  

(LWI) - Among the 37 women belonging to Colombia’s indigenous community of Chagadó, the leadership and drive of a 23-year-old woman stands out.

Miriam Rosa Majore, also known as Chavela.

Her friends and colleagues highlight three of her talents: charisma, desire to help others and ability to make herself heard in the community, despite the fact that women’s views are not taken into account when decisions are made.

Chavela is a single mother with two children. Her personal qualities led the community to choose her as one of seven incentive workers (three Indians and four of African descent), whom The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) appointed to replicate trainings and mobilize the community to carry out project activities.

LWF offers humanitarian assistance to vulnerable people affected by the conflict in rural areas of the department of Choco, in the northwest. The LWF program in Colombia implements the program with support from the European Commission’s Department of Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection.

Safe sanitation and hygiene

One aspect that Chavela finds important is the work on access to safe sanitation and hygiene for the community.

"It is important for families to know the importance of keeping the house clean and to maintain the water filters that LWF gave us," she says. "Thanks to the filters, the children no longer get sick. Before, they had diarrhea, vomiting and disease."

She is enthusiastic about the training she and her community have received on maintaining food security. "I teach organic pest control and talk about how to maintain and sow seeds on rooftops, growing onions, pennyroyal, oregano and basil to flavor foods."

Chavela has been instrumental in the development of both the indigenous community and the LWF team. She has gained recognition as a leader and spokesperson for women of the community. Her work has allowed her to help meet the needs of families, more especially the needs of women.

Women’s respect and confidence

Women are now beginning to gain respect in a masculine environment. She has enabled the women to visibly gain confidence.

Indigenous women’s contribution to their communities is one of the greatest achievements of this project. It is an example of what can be achieved when women are allowed to contribute to improving their people’s quality of life.

In her role as motivator, Chavela has strengthened her leadership skills. The experience has given her life new meaning, she says.

 

By Adriana Peñaranda, logistics officer, LWF Colombia. Edited by LWF Colombia Program communications N. Rojas