Whether they are farmers, artisans, builders, or taxi drivers, and whether or not they work close to home, or send support from far away, many of the men in the communities are labouring very hard, as husbands, partners and fathers, to provide for and encourage their families. Although En Vía works primarily with women, we acknowledge the valuable contributions and support that many men have given and continue to give within our programs.
Yerma, an En Vía borrower, with her husband
Though it is the women themselves who manage the loans, many of the loans go towards investment in family businesses that see wives and husbands working side by side. Often whole families are involved in the livelihood. We aim to be inclusive of men, and to understand the relationships that exist between women and men, within families, and whole communities.
We encourage, for example, strong communication within families, including between husbands and wives, so that everybody is aware of what participation in the loan process means. There are no secrets. The men of the communities have always been welcome at the meetings we hold weekly in the towns, and we have had the privilege of meeting many of them during the development of our programs and during visits to the homes.
Isabel’s husband, Agustin, provides a continuing support of her participation in the program. Agustin originally encouraged Isabel to take advantage of En Vía’s computer and internet classes, of which she is now a regular student. Together, with their weaving business, they are an example of a family that is working hard to provide a bright future for their young son, Edgardo.
Similarly, Maria’s husband, Domingo, recognised that her business as a seamstress could develop with the continued support of the program. Even when she was experiencing some initial difficulties with communication within her loan group, he encouraged her to seek out her team members and reach a solution.
Graciela works in partnership with her husband, Zenon. For some years Zenon worked and lived away from his young family, saving and sending money back to Teotitlán. Now the couple’s aim is to use the En Vía loans to build up a local weaving business together, so that he will not have to go far afield again to find work and can remain close to his young sons.
Josefina´s husband Paco, also works hard to provide for his family. It has been a pleasure to see the support he gives to Josefina in her business as she creates her own unique woven bag designs. Josefina and Paco welcome us to their home every Tuesday for a weekly meeting and actively help other women get involved.
Josefina and Paco
I first got to know Teresa’s husband, Manuel, as he placed around 100 folding chairs in the patio of his house for use at a group annual meeting of the women in Teotitlan. He showed me that behind the scenes there is a strong foundation made up of relationships between men and women. He was also standing proudly by the side of Teresa when she opened her new café in April, 2012.
Teresa and her husband Manuel
I remember first meeting Maria Luisa´s husband, Jose Luis, at the business classes, in which he accompanied and supported his wife as she entered the program in Tlacochahuaya. Jose Luis has proven to be an incredible support of the microfinance program, and the introduction of En Via´s English classes, that his son David has attended.
Also in Tlacochahuaya, I spent part of a lovely afternoon with Soledad’s husband, Mario, where I was shown the vegetable crops they had together sown in their field, using tools acquired by the loans. It was a delight to see their little daughter skipping around them between the lettuces!
Mario, Soledad’s husband, working in his field with his daughter
The success of our program, which works primarily with women, relies also on the participation of men. We acknowledge that relationships and trust are at the base of any development in a community, and the role that men play is a very important one. As we grow to include more women in our programs we will also look forward to meeting and including the men that are important to them.
By Kim Groves