Amy Bracken

Amy Bracken (Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management – SATIIM): Amy is a long-time journalist with a passion for exploring the natural world, learning about different cultures, and sharing her craft. After graduating from Columbia University’s School of Journalism in 2003, Amy moved to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where she spent two years reporting for Reuters, the Associated Press and other outlets. She then split her time between Haiti and her hometown, Boston, where she worked as a freelance producer at the public radio program The World. She also spent a year in Valdez, Alaska, running the newsroom of a small radio station and reporting on ongoing effects and litigation relating to the 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil spill. At the time of her fellowship Amy was studying for a Masters degree at the Fletcher School, Tufts University. After her fellowship Amy wrote: “I learned a lot from being in a place so culturally different from anywhere I’ve ever been. I saw little racial tension, little class distinction, little materialism, but also major problems like lack of education and economic opportunities.”

wrapping up the quilt in Midway

26 Aug

If you’re a dutiful blog reader but nod off at the word, ‘quilt,’ you’ll be glad these will be my last words about the ladies of Midway.

For much of this chapter of the quilting project, I was a mule, driving to the village, finding out who needed more of which color thread, and going back to the stores in Punta Gorda, where the poor young salesmen had to search, repeatedly, through sometimes dozens of boxes to find a match to my sample. Then back to Midway for a delivery, unless Thomas, the SATIIM ranger, or his wife, Seferina, was taking the bus into PG for a few hours on one of the four days a week the bus runs.

But as a mule I felt I was doing good. The women got really into the project, and were proud of their products, with good reason. Many had never embroidered before, and they were producing beautiful, vibrant images. I wondered if it was hard for them to hand their panels over to me at the end.

Concepciona IshimSome made more than one panel, and everyone I spoke with (which was everyone) said without hesitation that she would want to do another project like this one.

Most of the women are moms of multiple kids, and their housewife chores involve cooking everything from scratch, washing the family’s clothes and linens in the creek, and cleaning houses whose floors are made of dirt. But they were happy to have something else, something different to add to their list of tasks each day. For some it was quiet time in the hammock, away from the family. Others liked teaching the craft to village children.

Acela Cho, Midway, BelizeAnd I felt I earned their trust. Women in the group started calling me by name (rather than just ‘Miss’), even as I struggled to remember theirs. They sometimes spoke Q’eqchi to me, which might have been absent-mindedness or to shame me for not understanding, but it had the effect of making me feel included. But best of all, they honored me by making fun of me. In discussing how to depict a duck, one suggested they make the beak like mine, pink and pointy. But that was mild. The fact that I have no husband or children is endlessly amusing, of course, and Seferina said I really should get married. “How about him?” she said, pointing to a scrawny dog with bad mange. “He got your skin.”

Amy Bracken and Seferina Ishim


Anyway, now the panels are in my hands. I need to get them to the Advocacy Project, who’ll get them to a group of volunteers in the US, who will put the pieces together into a beautiful quilt. Fingers crossed. Then I’ll find places to display it, along with information about the women of Midway and SATIIM. The quilt will raise lots of money for SATIIM’s campaign to protect the Sarstoon Temash National Park from oil drilling, and the it will ultimately sell for a ton of money to benefit the women of Midway and inspire them to keep up the craft. Fingers crossed.

Posted By Amy Bracken

Posted Aug 26th, 2011

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