On Saturday, November 22nd, Mary Open Doors kicked off 16 days of activism against domestic violence with a market stall at their former premises in San Ignacio. The market sold homemade baking, popcorn, juice, second hand clothes and jewelry made by the women involved in skills training classes at the organization. Mary Open Doors is a newly formed Non Government Organization, addressing the issues of domestic violence in the Cayo community. The entity provides services of secure shelter for women and children affected by violence in their home. Mary Open Doors also offer confidential counseling, court advocacy, case management and referrals. The Cayo District Women's Department has been helping Mary Open Doors to run regular skills training classes for survivors of domestic violence. Classes have been running for 8 weeks now, and the women have learnt skills in jewelry making, weaving and sewing. "The great thing about these classes is that the women are learning skills that they can use to make craft that they can sell locally, helping them to support their families", says the current class facilitator, Miss Darlene Madden. "These women have a natural creative ability and you can see that in the beautiful jewelry they have been produced through hours of work in class". The classes meet twice a week, and the resulting craft will now be sold at the San Ignacio Market every Saturday. The classes not only teach valuable skills but increase the women's confidence and self-esteem. More classes are planned over the December period leading up to Christmas. There will be a new business skills training class and watercolour painting class. Mary Open Doors also organizes a weekly support group called "Women At Work" or 'WAW'. The support group provides a place for women to share their experiences of violence in an understanding environment, and gives help to the women needing a way out. WAW is also responsible for fundraising for the group, and helping to set up cooperatives such as the craft market, that will ultimately lead to the women becoming more financially independent.
For more information on the skills training classes, the support group or any other services, phone Chief Executive Officer Ms. Anna Silva 626-5780 or Marilyn Greig at 602-6934.