MayaWorks

MayaWorks' mission is to empower low-income indigenous women to end their cycle of poverty and improve their lives. MayaWorks trains artisans to transform their traditional weaving skills into a means of financial support for their families. Volunteers in the U.S. sell artisan products creating a market for the traditional arts of Maya women. This collaboration creates an opportunity for Maya women to achieve economic security and for North American women to participate in economic justice.
Mar 21, 2014

The Family That Weaves Together...

Angela working on a faja (belt)
Angela working on a faja (belt)

The following is a postcard from Lydia Sorensen, GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Representative in Guatemala, about her recent visit to MayaWorks.

In the town of San Juan Comalapa (sometimes known here by its Mayan name “Chixot”) a group of Mayan women are using the skills they have known practically their whole lives to craft more opportunities for themselves and their children. Most of these women learned to weave and sew from a very young age, and without the opportunity to attend school and gain an education, have been trying to provide an income for their families by making and selling clothing like colorful fajas (belts) and huipiles (blouses) that are similar to the ones their grandmothers made decades ago. With the help of MayaWorks, and the scholarships, resources, and training they provide, these artists in San Juan Comalapa are able to send their children not only to primary school but to help them get all the way through high school.

María Teresa Chipix and her sister Angela are two of the artists in San Juan Comalapa. Not only do both the sisters weave, but Angela’s husband and two daughters are also gifted weavers. In the courtyard of their house, Angela shows the belt that she is making (it will take about two weeks to complete just one belt), while her daughter works diligently on a huipil across from her (the detailed work on the huipil will take months to finish). Inside, tucked in a corner next to bags of corn, Angela’s husband is weaving a scarf, the shuttle flying as he adds rows of colors. He works full-time in the field but earns extra income by weaving when he’s at home. Leaving Angela’s home (across the way is her oldest daughter, weaving a huipil in her front yard), silence reins, interrupted only by the steady thunk of the shuttle—the sound of a family working together for a better future.

Angela
Angela's husband weaving a scarf
Angela, her oldest daughter, Teresa
Angela, her oldest daughter, Teresa
Feb 3, 2014

Scholarships Granted to 100 Indigenous Maya Girls

Scholarship checks make parents happy!
Scholarship checks make parents happy!

The United States Agency for International Development reports that Guatemalan children on average attend only four years of schooling and only three out of ten students graduate from sixth grade. Less than 20% of all Guatemalans graduate from high school. If there is limited money to pay for schooling, parents will elect to send the male children to  school leaving the girls at home to take care of domestic chores.  MayaWorks provides 100 scholarships for the daughters of artisans in an effort to keep them in school for as long as possible.

This week MayaWorks disbursed scholarshiips checks to 100 girls as they began the new school year.  MayaWorks provides partial scholarships. Parents are responsible for covering school expenses not covered by the scholarship.  Mothers pay for the additional educational expenses from their earnings weaving MayaWorks products because they want their daughters to have more opportunities than they had.  It is our hope that all the daughters of our artisan partners will complete high school and have the skills to enter the formal job sector.

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Dec 31, 2013

Microcredit Loans Create Opportunities for Women

Elena Mux, MayaWorks microcredit recipient
Elena Mux, MayaWorks microcredit recipient

It’s incredibly inspiring to listen to the women’s stories.  One thing I hear over and over again is how grateful they are to have opportunities: Opportunities for ongoing work; opportunities to start small businesses; and opportunities to educate their children.   Elena Mux is grateful for the opportunities that have helped to improve her life.

Elena began to support her family at the age of 13 when her father died.  She earned money by weaving and sewing products that she sold in the local market.  Elena married young and continued to take on work as a weaver whenever it became available.

It wasn’t until Elena started working with MayaWorks that she began to earn a fair wage for her weaving.  She says the opportunity of ongoing work with MayaWorks has allowed her to be financially independent.  This has been critical for Elena: her husband died early in her marriage and she has been the sole supporter of her teenage son. 

Elena also sells Omnilife health supplements that she purchased with a MayaWorks microcredit loan.  Elena’s business has been very successful: she has many customers who seek her out for her products.  During a recent visit with her, she proudly showed me her inventory and thanked me for the opportunities MayaWorks has afforded her family.

MayaWorks also offers other opportunities to assist women toward economic security: Artisans have the opportunity to expand their ability to create beautiful products that will bring them more income through MayaWorks capacity building trainings; daughters of artisans have the opportunity to stay in school and reach their educational goals when they are granted a MayaWorks scholarship; communities have the opportunity to improve their reading skills through MayaWorks literacy workshops.

We cannot do this work without our supporters. Your support helps MayaWorks fund programs that expand financial and educational opportunities for women who are ready to take on the world!  Thank you and Happy New Year to you and yours.

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