Visiting Gregorias and Gregoria Apaza


5/24 - Before I came to La Paz, I had heard about the women’s cooperative called Gregorias and was told I must visit, since my work is in women’s microenterprise. Once I started to look into it, I learned quite a bit. There are actually two (at least) organizations: Gregoria Apaza, an NGO started 27 years ago whose name honors a Bolivian heroine, and Gregorias, an offshoot organization developed with the help of Quaker Bolivia Link, an international organization. Gregorias is a wonderful cooperative of a few women who work together in a sunny room filled with looms. They are responsible for their own work and designs, setting their own prices, paying their rent (anticredito) and making decisions together. The community is stable, consisting of several Quaker women and their friends. We bought a large number of chalinas, or scarves, made from alpaca wool and the creamiest texture imaginable. We plan to sell them at our Yearly Meeting to benefit BQEF.
Gregoria Apaza, the parent agency, is also well worth a visit. It is down the street from Gregorias. Their programs are in four areas: social-political (leadership and training), economic, personal (legal, psychological, anti-violence and social work), and communication (radio station, book publishing). They offer 3-month training programs in textiles, cooking, and other areas. While the women (and some few men) are learning their trades, their small children are cared for in a beautiful day care center upstairs. In other rooms, the youth program is going strong: young people becoming youth leaders, making posters to teach their school friends about non-violence and taking an active role in organizing their communities. The legal department helps women who have been victims of violence. When we visited, the director of communication was more than happy to give us a tour and tell us about the organization. Perhaps they would like to establish a link with our Alternatives to Violence Program? You can find out more at