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.
Sep 30, 2013

Weaving Masterpieces

Lili weaving on her treadle foot loom
Lili weaving on her treadle foot loom

Lili Carmen has been weaving for as long as she can remember.  Weaving threads into masterpieces brings her great pleasure:  it relaxes her and reminds her how far she has come because of her weaving skills.

Life has been difficult for Lili.  Because her family was so poor, she needed to work from a young age to help her family make ends meet which meant Lili was unable to attend school.   She married young.  Her husband left her on and off throughout their marriage.  Lili had to be the breadwinner of her family and care for her three children mostly on her own.

Like most indigenous women, Lili leaned to weave from the time she was a little girl.  And this has been her saving grace.  Lili is a master weaver.  Women seek her far and wide to commission her weavings.  Lili has a MayaWorks’ microcredit loan to buy supplies and equipment to weave huipiles for other women.  Huipiles are the bright woven shirts that indigenous Maya women wear.  With the income she earns from weaving MayaWorks products and the huipiles she sells independently, Lili has purchased her own home, sent her three children to school and put food on the table everyday.

It hasn’t been easy for Lili but she stands strong knowing that she uses her skills to care for her family and make it on her own.  And she is grateful that she always has access to a MayaWorks microcredit loan to take her to the next step in reaching economic stability.

Lili is happy when she weaves
Lili is happy when she weaves
A work of art!
A work of art!

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Aug 2, 2013

MayaWorks Artisan Partners Open a Small Store

Angela makes products for the MayaWorks store.
Angela makes products for the MayaWorks store.

MayaWorks continually works with its artisan partners in Guatemala so that have the tools to work independently.  That is why we were thrilled when they approached us about opening a small store to carry their own inventory in Guatemala.  Up until now most of the products the artisans craft were for the export market. We worked with them on design and ordered products to meet the demands of the North American market.  Now MayaWorks artisans are creating their own designs and selling them to the local market which means they are crafting products for Guatemalan nationals as well as the tourist market.  Selling their own designs within country allows artisans to expand their market reach and teaches them valuable lessons about the product development process, inventory management and marketing.  

The MayaWorks store is very small and is located in Chimaltenango near our central offices.  We also are very pleased that more and more stores within Guatemala are seeking out our lines to carry in their venues.  We hope that many tourists will return home with a high quality handcrafted fair trade MayaWorks product!

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Jul 5, 2013

Three New Loans Granted for Crop Projects

Fields of Green
Fields of Green

By far MayaWorks grants more microloans for crop projects. The Maya live by the land.  Subsistence farming is a traditional way of life for Maya families in Guatemala; however, more and more these days, Maya farmers are growing crops for export to the U.S.  Three MayaWorks artisan partners have recently received loans of $500 each to buy plants for export crops.  

These women, from Xetonox, a fertile valley of Tecpán, will plant green bean and blackberry plants, both of which are lucrative export crops, that is, if the weather cooperates.  Too much rain ruins the plants and rainfall totals from recent years have proven that planting crops can be risky business.  Average rainfall in Guatemala ranges from 60 to 100 inches per year.  If a tropical storm system rolls in, the fate of crops is left to mother nature.  And mother nature usually wins!

We're keeping our fingers crossed for a successful year because the women really love their crop projects.  They proudly show off their fields when we come to visit.

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