By Amanda Macal, Patricia Veliz Macal, & Carla Osorio Veliz
We are three generations of immigrant women from Guatemala. We also have a family bond, as we are grandmother, mother, and daughter working together with the same mission and vision. About five years ago over drinking coffee, we joked around about writing a book about the unconditional labor of love immigrant working-class mothers give towards their children. We felt telling the stories of immigrant women; specifically single mothers would make their stories visible in the community. At the end of 2012, this idea transformed into an ethnographic project as we decided to interview women in the community who can share their stories about their journeys as immigrants and their leadership power in with their families. We ended up interviewing 19 Latina women living in Los Angeles County from Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, and Honduras. This collection of interviews turned into a book that we decided to title Los Hilos Que Tejen (The Threads that Weave) symbolic to the legacy our ancestors have left us and continue to weave our stories to reflect our sisterhood as immigrant women and our strengths.
Los Hilos Que Tejen (2015) validated the power of immigrant women and all of their work inside and outside the home to raise their family. In addition, it provided a platform for us to share about Guatemala and our stories in order to heal in our community, as our stories can be hard to tell but necessary to share to be able to transform. Many women who are not visible or are not given space in the community were definitely motivated by the book and they began to ask for workshops. Being conscious of the need, during 2016 we presented book presentations with a workshop titled “Our Power, Our Voice,” to share the stories and motivate other people to share theirs as well. It was magical to see different generations of people participate in the workshop and share with us that they wanted more out of it and to get involved. Through the workshops is how the next idea of creating a non-profit organization emerged. Generaciones en Accion (GEA) was born in June 2016 with the mission to: To help multi-generational immigrant families gain access to education, trainings and cultural activities that contribute to their personal well-being, professional development, leadership skills and community impact.
Immigrant families are courageous and determined to create a better future for themselves and for their children. Grandparents, parents and children cross several borders and arrive in the United States to fulfill their dreams and those of their families. Generaciones en Accion seeks to provide leadership, educational and self-empowering trainings and opportunities for personal, professional and community development. We are also aware that many immigrants are alone and do not have a family unit in Los Angeles. With the organization, we would strive to be a sanctuary for individuals to feel safe and accepted within the work we are doing. The three of us have planted a seed of love but the organization depends on a team of people who believe in the mission and how we need to start working intergenerationally and not separately as generations. We are bound to learn more from one another and support each other mentally and emotionally. One of our first events is a two-day seminar in March 2017 focusing on the following: How can we create an intergenerational communication? How can we learn to validate each other, learn about each generation’s legacy, and how to create healthy intergenerational relationships? We hope to have a good intergenerational group of people to learn from one another and assess the needs of an intergenerational community to begin providing services in the greater East Los Angeles area.
Amanda Macal was born in Guatemala in 1938. She studied to be a Secretary at the school of Art, Drama, and Commercial at the University Popular in Guatemala. Ever since she was little, she enjoyed acting and has worked in many plays as an actress. In 2010, she was recognized as an Outstanding Women by La Opinion in Los Angeles CA.
Patricia Veliz Macal, a Newfield Network and International Coaching Federation certified coach, has been a transformational coach, community educator and motivational speaker for over twenty years. She holds a degree in Communication Science from the prestigious Francisco Marroquín University and a Dramatic Arts degree from the Academia Universidad Popular, both of these institutions of higher learning are based in Guatemala City.
Carla Osorio Veliz is a community social worker and an adjunct lecturer at East Los Angeles Community College in the Social Sciences Department. She received her B.A. in Sociology from UC Irvine in 2008 and her Masters in Social Work from USC in 2012. Has experience working in different social services non-profits providing community based projects to prevent violence in low-income communities. She is the co-founder of two collectives Community Education for Social Action (2011) and Solidarity House of the South (2015). She enjoys reciting social justice poetry with 3 Generaciones and Youth in Resistance. Will be launching a non-profit organization Generaciones en Accion with her family in 2017. She was raised in East Los Angeles and was born in Guatemala.