I have some amazing stories from my interviews of Maya women in Chiapas, Mexico. They are stories of strength and determination to overcome obstacles in life. Here is one life story from Isabel.
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San Cristobal, Mexico
My name is Isabel. I am one of nine children in the family. My mother was unable to handle us, so we were sent to live with different relatives in my village of Aguacatenango. I was sent to live with an aunt. My father was very violent, so I was glad to leave that house. I am the only one in my family to leave the village. I tried once to leave my aunt when I was seven years old, but I did not succeed in leaving. When I was 11 years old my family arranged a marriage for me. I ran away and went to San Cristobal and was able to find a job taking care of a baby. I went to primary and secondary school in San Cristobal. I married at age 23 and became a widow very soon after I was married. My husband was murdered, and I was pregnant, and soon to deliver a son. That same year I started with a theater group and wrote stories and acted in plays about our lives. Our group became involved in raising money for refugees from Guatemala during their civil war. In 1993 a couple of women and I formed FOMMA in order to focus on the needs of Maya women. A literacy program was very important to offer to these women. I went back to school and finished my education at the university. I feel that my work constantly reflects on my own life. I still return to my village of Aguacatenango and keep the traditional ways. In that sense I am leading a double life in that I am helping women adjust to modern life away from the village traditions, yet I keep the traditions when I am with my family. I speak to women about being independent and making their own decisions.