Breaking Out of Her Shell and Finding Her Voice

 

From looking out for her family to looking out for her entire community.

 

 

For most of her life, Sadith Manihuari was always quiet and hesitant to speak up.  Living in the community of Puerto Prado, Marañon River (Loreto), during her entire life, she quite enjoyed the home she built with her husband and five children.  She had dedicated herself to maintaining her home, ensuring her children had food on the table, and to preserving a healthy relationship with her husband.  In fact, Sadith says they were a model family in the community. “This is how we live — peacefully. People in town admire us and often ask us how we manage without fighting or arguing. We may disagree on some things but we always talk things out calmly.” 

 

Still, Sadith was surprised when, one day, a letter addressed to her arrived at the house.  It was an invitation to participate in one of Minga Peru’s workshops to become a community leader. Despite being intrigued, the idea that she would be invited to participate had never crossed her mind and she was hesitant. “At first I thought, I can’t participate in this! Who is going to look after my kids?!”,  Sadith said, But a local Minga community leader assured her that if she attended, she would gain so much from the experience, and after speaking to her husband, he too encouraged her to go.  So even though she still had her doubts, Sadith decided to take a leap of faith and go to her first Minga workshop. “The first time I went, I was quiet and timid. I was afraid of seeming like I didn’t know what I was talking about. But I saw how the other women spoke openly, smiled and asked questions.”

 

 

At the Minga workshops, the confidence that the other women exhibited was contagious and pretty soon, Sadith learned to slowly open up and actively participate.  She particularly found learning about diseases most interesting.  In her community, there was a common misconception that breast and cervical cancer came from having an abortion.  Learning the truth, Sadith felt it was her responsibility to share this knowledge with those around her. There’s no doubt that where Sadith used to be shy and apprehensive, she’s now outspoken and empowered.  

 

“Before, I never wanted to participate, now when I lead workshops, I tell myself, ‘You have nothing to be afraid of.’”

 

Since finding her voice, Sadith had dedicated herself to more than just her home and her family–she has dedicated herself to her entire community.  She knows that there is much work to do and wants to continue to share her knowledge with her peers and with the younger generation. 

 

“We’re a small community of only 75 people.  Through Minga, my hope is that we continue to unlearn some of the misconceptions we grew up with.  In our generation, our parents never talked directly with us.  But now that we’re the parents, it’s our responsibility to share what we know with our children.”

 

In the future, Sadith wishes to find more ways to improve the lives of those in her community.  Knowing that many women in Puerto Prado knit, she would like to learn more about creating and selling artisanal crafts.  Sadith sees crafting as therapeutic and a healthy way to deal with stress but it would also be a source of additional income for women, creating more financial equity in the home.

 

When reflecting on her experiences with Minga, Sadith is grateful for the opportunity she’s been given and furthermore, for the opportunities she’s been able to give others through her work as a community leader. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn more and break out of my shell. Now, I am no longer afraid to speak up.”

 

 

To date, Minga has successfully trained more than 1200 community leaders like Sadith, who through their network, have found their voice, impacting more than 24000 women in the most remote communities in the Peruvian Amazon.

 

You can make possible that more women living on this side of the world are trained and empowered, by making a meaningful donation to Minga today.

 

DONATE HERE

 

** U.S. donations are tax-deductible and can be made through Minga’s fiscal sponsor, The Resource Foundation.

 

We would like to thank our partners HelpPeru, The Ashmore Foundation,  Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic, and Friends of Minga Peru for their continuous support.