Travel Tales: Our visits with sustained programs

Dining for Women travelers have visited a number of the programs receiving sustained funding. Get an up-close-and-personal view.

By Patricia Andersson
DFW Travel Program Director

Thirteen Threads in Guatemala in October’s sustained program. Have we visited them in person? Yup, we have.

Fifteen intrepid travelers went there in October  2013, as part of a journey that included visits to five different programs in Guatemala supported by DFW. The group’s time with Thirteen Threads was fascinating, starting off by joining the women of Thirteen Threads in a special Mayan ceremony honoring the female energy of the universe. Later, the travelers heard first-hand from Thirteen Threads members about the personal impact that being involved with this organization has had on their lives.

A common theme that ran through all the women’s stories was the importance of community and being united in strength — the underlying meaning of Thirteen Threads as being stronger than a single thread alone — as they learned to exercise their rights and gain economic self-sufficiency. Our travelers also had the opportunity to watch these master weavers in action, to see — and purchase — their beautiful handicrafts. They then headed off to visit another of the 11 groups of women that Thirteen Threads works with over six different areas of Guatemala, to share lunch, learn how the women carry heavy water jugs on their heads, and take part in traditional songs and dances.

Lynn McClelahan Guatemala
One of the travelers, Lynn McClelehan (left) of Portland, OR, was so moved by her experience in Guatemala that she’s returning there next month – for five weeks. “The trip was life-changing for me,” Lynn said. “I really had no connection with the country before I went, but I fell in love with the people while I was down there, and want to go back. This never would have happened without traveling with Dining for Women, seeing the behind-the-scenes poverty and meeting the women that DFW supports. It’s outside of what one can experience on the tourist circuit. I’ve stayed involved since I returned, and am going back to study Spanish and volunteer. I’m planning to visit Thirteen Threads while I’m there.”  We’re looking forward to hearing about Lynn’s return journey on Facebook!

Are you curious how the women from Thirteen Threads spend their “free time?” Our travelers who posed that question were surprised by the answer —read the full blog post with that and many more interesting details.

baby shower at INMED 2
September’s sustained program was INMED in Peru. Have we been to visit them too? Yep, in May 2011 – and we’re going back again in just a few weeks! Our last journey there was covered in this blog post by trip leader Taryn Walker. We’ll also have reports coming in from the field as our trip unfolds in October. There will be 14 travelers, spanning the U. S. from Philadelphia to Portland, excited to hit the road and meet each other as the journey begins in Lima. Highlights of the upcoming journey will include hosting a baby shower for expectant mothers in the remote and poverty-stricken areas where INMED works, as well as a boat trip to visit INMED’s riverside sites in the Peruvian jungle. Our travelers will also experience a home stay with the families of Taquile Island on Lake Titicaca, then travel to Machu Picchu to see the sun rise over this breathtaking World Heritage site. Watch this blog page, and also find links on Facebook to follow along with our travelers on this unique journey.

Although it’s only a coincidence that the travel program has visited these sustained programs – there is no connection between our visits and the decisions to grant sustained funding — there does seem to be a strong correlation between the two. Of the nine sustained programs we’re supporting between September 2014 and May 2015, the Travel Program has visited seven of them! That, I believe, speaks highly of the quality of programs that are selected for both the Travel Program and Sustained Funding!

TRAVEL PROGRAM TRIVIA: Can you name the seven out of nine Sustained Funding Programs that DFW has visited? If you can, you need to come on our next trip — to the Domincan Republic, next April, to visit Mariposa. See more info and apply.