My name is Molly Frazier and I am a MAPLE volunteer and Board Member. I recently graduated from the University of Oregon with a major in Business and a minor in Spanish. After graduation I had the opportunity to travel throughout South America. My travels took me many places, one being Llaguepulli, Chile where MAPLE Microdevelopment has been working since 2012.
For one week in July I had the pleasure of staying in Llaguepulli. I was hosted by three incredible families who, along with the rest of the community, welcomed me with open arms. During this week I got to see MAPLE’s role in the community and how it has impacted the Mapuche families living there. As a board member of MAPLE I was eager to experience first hand the difference MAPLE has made and continues to make in the Llaguepulli Community.
MAPLE’s main program in the community is the Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo. Llaguepulli's Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo, based on the Mapuche context of mutual support (rekulluwun-keyuwun) began its first pilot stage in 2014, thanks to MAPLE and in collaboration with the Llaguepulli community. It started with 24 members, but now consists of a steady 35-40 members from the Llaguepulli community and is in its third cycle. The uniqueness of this model is what makes it so special, since it caters to Mapuche everyday life and cultural context. Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo works by using group savings to fund initiative and emergency loans. In short, it is providing people with security and access to capital; both of which make a profound impact for the individuals and families involved.
I had the opportunity to observe one of Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo’s meetings during my stay. This particular meeting was for initiative loans. A record number of members presented their proposals for a range of initiatives ranging from purchasing materials for a garden and chicken coops, to supporting artisans in the community. Listening to the members make their proposals, I could tell these were matters that were very important to them. The communal desire to see everyone in the group succeed was made evident when all the initiative proposals were granted.
Another way I experienced MAPLE’s impact in the community was through talking with the local staff. Two of the women on MAPLE’s team hosted me during my stay at Lago Budi. We had several rich conversations, many of which centered on MAPLE. Silvia, who changed professions by joining the MAPLE team, explained to me that working for MAPLE does not feel like “work” because she is doing something she loves. Nadia, who has been with the MAPLE team since it began working with the community, relayed to me how important it is to her that MAPLE operates the way it does. That is, working with the community and understanding their wants and needs in order to build a program the people can take ownership of and support.
Finally, I saw how strong of a bond MAPLE has made with the community. As Alison and Ignacio introduced me to members of the community I could tell they are regarded as dear friends and highly respected for the work they have been doing with MAPLE.
My stay not only opened my eyes to MAPLE’s impact but also to the beauty and wonders of Llaguepulli. In the community one can see farmland, native forests, Mapuche Rukas, an array of animals, and of course Lake Budi. The lake is beautiful from every angle but my favorite was experiencing its vastness through a paddleboat across its shores. On my last day in the community I was invited to a Mapuche Ceremony. It was truly an amazing experience to participate in the ceremony and be further welcomed into the community.
I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to stay in Lago Budi and experience the kindness of the community, the beauty of the area, and the positive impact MAPLE is making.