Amigos de Corazon invites weavers to share stories
by Mary Stamp
Debbie Dupey has sold scarves of indigenous weavers in the Northwest since 2011. Five years ago, she formed the nonprofit, Amigas de Corazon, which includes Corazon Scarves as a program, but her ties with Guatemala involve more than fair trade.
Fifteen years ago, she and Sandi Thompson-Royer went there to do Women Walking Together domestic violence training. For nearly 25 years, Debbie did domestic violence and sexual assault prevention in the Spokane area, including with Spokane Domestic Violence Consortium and Lutheran Community Services Northwest. She and Sandi made short trips to Central America to train social workers and women.
Debbie earned a bachelor's in education and creative writing in 1986 from Eastern Washington University, a teaching certificate in 1990 and a master's in organizational leadership at Gonzaga.
For five years, she alternated living six months in the U.S. and six months in Guatemala, and began bringing scarves to sell to support education for weavers and their children.
For six years with Corazon Journeys, she took groups to Guatemala to explore, learn and serve. Serving includes listening to the weavers' stories to understand the culture and problems indigenous women face. U.S. women hear trauma stories of Guatemalan women, who were silent until they were in their 40s.
It also includes nurses doing blood pressure screenings and eye exams. Others read to children.
In one generation, weavers have earned money to educate their children, some of whom are now lawyers, teachers and environmental engineers.
"In workshops, we build on women's strengths, teaching them how to support their children's learning and helping them heal from past traumas through art and other creative processes," she said.
In June, Debbie went to Guatemala with Amigas de Corazon board member Annie McKinlay, bringing food, children's games and self-care kits. Early in the pandemic, they sent money to provide food.
"We want to buy products, because the weavers want to support themselves, not have charity," she said.
"One person or just a few people can make lasting changes when they build relationships and allow people to follow their dreams," Debbie said. "All some need is support to believe in themselves, so they can thrive. It has been powerful to be part of change, seeing weavers' children follow their dreams and move out of oppression.
"Going there opened me to immerse myself in something globally," she said. "We can read what is happening far off, but to hear women's stories, look in their eyes and see how politics affect them has had impact on me.
"Their resilience is beautiful," she said. "People connecting is important for all of us to survive. We are all safer and thrive when everyone thrives. If people in Central America cannot thrive in their communities, they will cross the border to find work.
"We are connected," Debbie said. "Guatemalans are our neighbors. U.S. intervention set the stage for indigenous people's suffering," she said, noting that people are rising, protesting, seeking their rights and following their dreams.
For information, call 509-714-8928 or visit amigasdecorazon.org.