Written by Sara Llansa
Several weeks ago we began planning a women’s group in Potrero. We had several meetings together in order to figure out the questions that we would ask the women and how we envisioned the group would be. We all agreed that we wanted this group to be for the women by the women. We, the Abriendo Mentes volunteers, wanted to be more like facilitators than the actual leaders of the group.
Last week we kicked off the women’s group with an art class designed by AM volunteer Reshma. Right before the class started I began talking with a few women that were waiting for the class to begin, to see what they wanted to get out of the women’s group, and what they wanted the focus of the class to be. I was pleasantly surprised by how many ideas the women had. They began giving me a wealth of information about the direction they wanted the group to take. They told me that their main preoccupation as women in Potrero was the lack of economic opportunities available for them. They were most interested in learning artisan crafts so that they could develop some marketable skills, and benefit from tourism in the Guanacaste area. After we talked for a few minutes, it was time to start the class.
We had a group of 6 women, and I started off the class by saying – bienvenidos al club de mujeres – welcome to the women’s club, and the women began applauding and they all looked very excited. It was wonderful to see the joy in their faces, knowing that there was a group that was specifically geared towards them. We taught them a paper quilling activity where the women decorated bags. The class started around 5 p.m. and didn’t finish until close to 7 p.m. The women seemed to really enjoy learning something new, being artistic, doing something completely different, and spending time with other women. It was wonderful to see them all concentrated on the activity, but at the same time sharing with other women in Potrero.
One of the women, Milagros, called me after the activity to ask me when the next one would
be, and she told me that she had really enjoyed feeling like part of a group with other women since she didn’t know many women here. The day after the activity we had an impromptu meeting with a few of the women to talk more in-depth about what they wanted to get out of the class, and so far it seems like we really will be facilitators of the group just as we had wanted. One of the women said that once a week was not enough so we’re thinking of holding 2 classes a week for them.
I’m excited to see where this group goes, and I’m very proud to be a part of it. I love how Abriendo Mentes is expanding opportunities not only for the children, but also for the adults.