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11 Nov 2020
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Indigenous Women’s Stories in English

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In June 2020, we released “Narrativas” (Stories), a Spanish-language e-book containing over 30 stories of rural indigenous women leaders and their network of organizations that we incubate. These stories are mostly written in their own words. They are complemented by 68 high-quality narrative-oriented photographs.

PSYDEH felt that our work wasn’t finished yet. This project was motivated by our belief in the power of rights-oriented storytelling as leadership development, marketing, and feedback giving tool. Stories live as long as people can read and hear them. So, we took on the next step in this project: translating the book into English.

This project answers the call of our indigenous women partners, who feel as though their stories and narrative traditions are a crucial part of their heritage and their daily lives. However, their stories are often misrepresented and misunderstood by Mexicans as well as foreigners. Our goal, and challenge, in translating this material was to represent the powerful and personal stories of our women partners, whilst capturing their personality, character, and passion.

PSYDEH would like to extend our thanks to Eleanor Neal who took on this responsibility in her role translating the book. She shares our understanding of the importance of narratives, telling us:

“It is so important that all of our stories get out there, especially those stories from people who are underrepresented in literature. There is so much human experience packed into Narrativas. I believe that this allows us to think beyond ourselves and enrich our worldview, which is ultimately the beauty of storytelling.”

Thanks to Eleanor, PSYDEH is now able to expand the audience of Narrativas. This translation means that the stories of indigenous women in Hidalgo can reach 360 million native English speakers. As long as these stories are shared then we provide material to enrich, develop, and expand others’ understanding of the different realities that exist in indigenous communities in Mexico.

This initiative is proof that there is no singular experience that sums up life in the rural communities in Hidalgo. Each woman’s story is unique: from Isabel’s fight against gender and cultural discrimination; to Balbina’s growth in confidence and claiming of her voice; to the stories of partners who are tragically no longer with us, whose lives, personalities and voices live in the narratives created for this initiative.

We are keen to keep these stories alive and dedicated to bringing them to as wide an audience as possible – one of the beauties of stories is that they resonate outside of their home. So, we invite you to share this initiative with those story lovers you know – from colleagues to friends and family.

Next step in the journey

We believe this project’s evolution isn’t over just yet. Our next goal is to secure needed funds to print this book and give each of the 27 women leaders her own copy. The leaders are based in remote regions of Hidalgo with limited internet access, meaning the digital version is not best suited for them. Whilst a digital book benefits from being easily shared, accessible to all with no barriers to reading it as long as you have the internet, PSYDEH views the printed books as a valuable asset to the leaders and their communities.

In addition to gifting each of the leaders with their own copy, PSYDEH would keep a few copies, and then sell the rest in a social enterprise venture to channel all net gain to support more leader and story developing work. See here six featured full stories, here on how we view stories as key to feedback, and read here on how you can help us kick off this project to print 150 copies of this first-of-its-kind book in Hidalgo.

Behind the book

Want to know a little bit more about the project? This book is the culmination of years of work by many collaborators and facilitators who have volunteered their time along the way.

The original initiative was funded by our global crowdfunding ‘Fruits of Change’ campaign in collaboration with the US-based GlobalGiving. It kicked off with two days of workshops for our Network leaders in our office in Tulancingo, Hidalgo, where we organized and taught a variety of exercises to cement the skills and ideas the women needed to tell their own stories.

From beginning-to-end, PSYDEH saw clear, measured progress by women using their stories — in text, drawing, portrait, and video — to own their power. By the end of May, we had: a strong initial set of portraits of each woman leader, first iterations of metaphoric poems speaking to who each woman is, recordings of interviews between staff and individual women’s musings, thoughts, and ideas they felt were important, both the good and the hard.

From there the project’s coordinators, Katie Freund and Diana Ramirez, edited and drafted the text, whilst photographer Diogo Heber selected and edited images to include within the publication. The team then put all their work together, with many back and forths of editing, ideas, and formatting. Then at the end of May, we produced the Spanish language version of the book, leading us to its digital publication and translation into English. Read the original in Spanish original or contact us to help support the initiative’s future.

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PSYDEH is a non-profit civil association, which was formed by the initiative of a group of young women from the municipality of Santiago Tulantepec in the State of Hidalgo. PSYDEH is committed to working with and for the most vulnerable communities in the region through the promotion of a Sustainable Human Development.