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Checking in with the women of Plant With Purpose Mexico

"My way of thinking has changed a bit," begins Maricela Luisa, a Purpose Group member in Mexico. In our programs around Oaxaca, Puebla, and Chiapas, the work is as much about identity and purpose as it is about planting trees. For women in Mexico who have faced marginalization and poverty, this approach leads to some transformative discoveries.

We recently had a chance to talk with a few of the women in Mexico who are in our program: Maricela Luisa, a young mother living in Rio Grande; Rubiela, a member of a veteran Purpose Group that has recently graduated; and Viridiana, another longtime member who recently upgraded her home.

What Plant With Purpose projects are you currently working on?

Maricela Luisa: Savings, rainwater capture, and a bird and reforestation module.
Viridiana: In our Purpose Group, we practice conservation, conservation works, organic planting, vegetable cultivation, reforestation, workshops about our shared values, and environmental education. I liked getting training about how to manage money. I have learned not to spend too much, and to plan!

What was your attitude towards life before collaborating with Plant With Purpose?

Rubelia: Before, I was shy to speak, to express something. I didn’t want to direct in front of a group. I struggled. Now that I'm in the group I feel confident with my colleagues.
Viridiana: About five years ago, we had a very serious problem in our town. My husband ended up in jail. Thank God, there were people from our community who supported us a lot to face the situation.

women in mexico

How has your life changed with the Plant With Purpose programs? 

Maricela Luisa: I have learned to save every month, with what I learned in the Finance Workshop. I decided not to buy unnecessary things, I better do daily savings, whenever I can.
Viridiana: Thanks to what we learned from Plant With Purpose we can now support the community by sharing the knowledge we have. Before, I used to get angry with my husband often, because we lacked money. Money is not everything, but it is necessary, the children needed shoes. Now with the savings we can meet the needs.

What have you done or accomplished that you are most proud of?

Viridiana: I am from Chiapas, and women in Mexico, there, normally do not work in the fields. When I was a child, my father did not let me use the machete, so I did not learn to use it. Here in Oaxaca, women do work in the fields. I didn't know how to, but with Plant With Purpose I learned to plant orchards, to plant vegetables. I also raised corn and beans. I learned how to fertilize crops, because we attended a workshop on to make compost. I feel good because I learned to work in the fields.
Rubelia: Now I see myself as responsible for caring for the environment. I thank God because all the Plant With Purpose staff that have come here helped show us how to take care of the environment.

How have planting trees and cultivating your land directly or indirectly benefited your life?

Rubelia: Two years ago, Plant With Purpose brought the pines to plant in the plots of each one of the Purpose Group members. Now the trees are big. They are growing, they are green.
Viridiana: Planting trees helps bring rain, which improves the environment.
Maricela Luisa: There are more trees, in the future they will attract rain and then there will be more water, there will also be more oxygen. This is why trees are necessary for human beings. They provide soil retention and soil erosion will be reduced.

How has working with Plant With Purpose improved your way of thinking about caring for the environment in your community?

Maricela Luisa: I have learned that the knowledge we have acquired about caring for the environment must be transmitted to our children from generation to generation. Trees need care, it is not just planting them, they must be pruned so that they grow properly and bear fruit.

How has working together with Plant With Purpose helped you earn a better income and improve your life?

Viridiana: The interest on the loans from our Purpose Group is not high, before we had no money or where to ask for loans, but now we save $1,000.00 a month. Saving money has helped me a lot. We have invested in animals, we also set up a small grocery store. Saving has helped us to overcome illness.
Maricela Luisa: With the rainwater tank, we collect the water from the rainy season so we no longer suffer to collect and carry it. We use the stored water to irrigate the plants that we have around the house, such as fruit trees, which we hope will grow and bear fruit. By having the Poultry Module, we can have the chickens there to produce eggs for our own consumption.

women in mexico

How has the way you see yourself changed?

Viridiana: With those reflections that you have shared with us, we learned a lot about God. We learned that among colleagues, we must support each other. Now I see myself as more confident in my ability to help others.
Maricela Luisa: My way of thinking has changed a bit. In the Purpose Group I have learned that you have to be respectful and honest. I pass on these lessons to my children so that they can also be like that as well. I liked learning that there is equality, that we are all equal. Through conversation there is a restoration of relationships with my family and with my neighbors.
Rubelia: Now I see myself as responsible for caring for the environment. I thank God because all the Plant With Purpose staff that have come here helped show us how to take care of the environment.

What do you dream or hope for the future?

Rubelia: I want to teach my family, especially my children, to keep saving and also in God's way. Now I want to keep going, as a family we want to get to have something more to generate income.
Viridiana: I wanted to improve my house, to have something. I have accomplished this. Now I want to let my children study.
Maricela Luisa: I wish to have capital to start a particular business to obtain growth and profit. With reforestation there will be more shade, soil retention, there will be more oxygen, more rain will be attracted, we will also have wood to use it properly.

Since you have been working with Plant With Purpose how do you see your life and your role in your community?

Rubelia: I am a citizen who participates, I can support the activities that are carried out in my community.
Viridiana: I am trustworthy, others can trust me to do something.

Support women like Rubelia, Viridiana, and Marciela Luisa! $50 can equip women like them to plant 50 trees.

About the Author

Plant With Purpose seeks to restore hope by reversing two of the world’s greatest challenges: global poverty and environmental damage. These problems are interconnected.

Our goal is to see creation’s life-giving regenerative cycles restored and people renewed through their relationship to God, living in healthy sufficiency and empowered to dream.

We operate in eight countries around the world. Our international work is 100% locally-led, with global offices operating both as independent agencies within their country, and alliance partners with Plant With Purpose U.S., which supports their ongoing work.

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