The Tia Foundation’s first Supervising Promotora
“The day I first met Rosie, I was sitting on a bench eating a carnitas taco, taking a break from scouting El Reparo for a potential brigade trip.” Said Laura Libman, Tia’s founder, CEO, and president. “She asked me if I needed help.”
“Necesitas ayuda?” said Rosie.
After talking for a bit, Laura revealed why she was in town and asked Rosie if she’d attend a class if the brigade came to teach one in the town center. Rosie grinned. Of course she would.
Several months later, Rosie graduated at the top of her class. From then on, she’d be a Supervisor Promotora and health leader in her community.
But that was just the beginning.
As Rosie spoke with the other mothers, aunts, sisters, and daughters in her community, she realized there was a gap in her current ability to help them.
“Verduras?” said one woman during one of the weekly sewing circles Rosie hosted. “What vegetables? The only good produce around here is in Sayula. It’s too expensive. And who has time to make the trip?”
Access to nutritional foods is a serious problem in rural Mexico. Most breadwinners work as subsistence farmers or cattle workers for large ranches, but fresh produce is often hard to come by for individual families. Most people can’t afford a car or the time it takes to ride a bus into town—if there’s a bus to take. Coca-Cola and Takis corn chips are much easier to come by, so they’re staples in many homes.
When Rosie went home to her own family that night, she pondered ways to get more nutritional foods into the bellies of her neighbors—as well as her own husband and four children. She thought about it all week and finally, just before it was time to greet her sewing circle again, she got an idea and presented it to her friends minutes later.
“We’re going to get more vegetables to El Reparo, and we’re going to start right this minute,” she told them.
Rosie laid out plans for a community-run co-op. Her sewing circle would embroider gorgeous table clothes and bed linens together each week, just as they’d done for years. Once the sewing circle had enough crafts, they’d ask designate someone in the community to drive into town and sell them—then use those funds to buy fresh groceries and distribute them among the sewing circle.
Soon, more families wanted to join the co-op too, even those without skilled embroiderers in the family. People could donate their time to help sell the crafts, money to help buy supplies, or their cars as transportation.
If you’re ever in Guadalajara, take a day trip to Sayula some weekend. You may find some of the co-ops delicate handiwork to take home—and help this entrepreneurial Promotora prevent malnutrition, diabetes, and heart disease in her community, one verdura at a time.
The author of this and other stories to be featured here is Kathryn Casna. After traveling into the field on a Tia project, Kat generously donated these lovely stories to make our work come alive to our friends and donors. Thoughtful and brilliant, Ms. Casna is a freelance writer who can be reached at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathryn-casna-freelance-writer/