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.
Apr 1, 2014

Successful Projects Give Women Confidence

Maria Arcadia and her milk cow
Maria Arcadia and her milk cow

María Arcadia is an example of the power of a successful microcredit project.  With her first MayaWorks' microcredit loan, she purchased a cow and sold milk to the members of her small community of Agua Caliente.  That was in 2010. María Arcadia still has the cow and is still providing milk for her village but, just this past year, and after paying off her first loan, she requested another microloan to expand her livestock.  María Aracadia purchased a female calf that she will take good care of until she is able to produce a calf herself.  In this way, María Arcadia will grow the number of livestock on her farm.

MayaWorks is careful to teach loan recipients that they must consider all of the expenses related to their income generating project, not just the initial purchase cost.  For example, we asked María Aracadia what will it cost to feed the calf?  What will veterinary visits cost?  Will there be any expenses related to mating the cow?  What will the selling costs be when she has finished mating?  It is important to discuss all of these potential expenses with the loan recipient so she clearly can see whether the project will be profitable or not. After reviewing all of these costs, María Arcadia determined she could double her investment.

When women have success with their projects, when they really understand their projects, they feel confident to expand them and ultimately create more income for their families.  

Maria Arcadia and her neighbors of Agua Caliente
Maria Arcadia and her neighbors of Agua Caliente

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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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