In the mountains of south Mexico, the Nahua villagers of Tlamacazapa (population 6,100) earn a meagre living by weaving palm baskets, an ancient art preserved over centuries. The village context is characterized by acute poverty, overcrowding with malnutrition and constant illness; water and soil contaminated with lead and arsenic; and inadequate sanitation. Male alcoholism; social norms of violence, fear and macho attitudes; high illiteracy; and an encroaching drug culture further complicate the setting.Dr. Susan Smith is the founder and director of Atzin, a non-profit civil organization based in Mexico, now with sister associations in Canada and the United States. Atzin concentrated its work in Tlamacazapa because of its sheer complexity, and a growing recognition that this village is a microcosm of our world situation. Violence, economic poverty and oppression largely define the village social reality. Fear, resentment and hate dominate people's inner emotional world -- a poverty of spirit. Serious contamination and disintegration of the environment make up their physical world. These are our global challenges as well.Atzin's goals are the attainment of community security with fulfillment of basic needs; love, happiness and courage within ourselves and with others; and harmony within a healthy environment. Evolving since 1997, Atzin's development programs focus on four integrated sectors: Health and Healing; Income Generation for Women; Community Education and Literacy; and Environment, Water and Sanitation. Each program is based on principles of social participation; investigation with action; and environmental and economic sustainability.Atzin's dual focus on social processes and the technical aspects of poverty, insufficient water, inadequate sanitation and environmental contamination exemplifies an integrated approach to risk reduction and community development.More than any technical intervention, Susan recognizes that true development work requires resolve -- a sustained determination. The task is to create many opportunities and to build within, nurturing the inner conditions for happiness so that difficult circumstances and experiences can be passed through and learned from, and not be carried as fear, hate, jealousy, greed, and resentment. So often the answer is right there: stop "fixing," look carefully, come close, study, listen long, work hard, reflect and speak up, seek silence and pray. Fear will fall, and confidence will rise. The many means for enabling more enriched lives, especially for women, become clearer. This is the essence of a spirit of enterprise.TEDxUofC happened March 30, 2012 in Calgary Alberta Canada.
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