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.
Feb 7, 2013

MayaWorks Leads Trip to Guatemala for U.S. Weavers

Kippot crocheters of San Marcos La Laguna
Kippot crocheters of San Marcos La Laguna

A group of 13 Jewish weavers and others from the U.S. who are interested in Fair Trade and women's economic development just returned from a trip to Guatemala to meet with artisan partners who craft Judaica products. This trip was sponsored by MayaWorks and two other organizations involved in Fair Trade, Fair Trade Judaica and Mayan Hands. The purpose of the journey was to create an awareness within the Jewish community that Jewish values directly align with the principles of Fair Trade. For 10 days tourists visited our artisan partners in the central highlands of Guatemala. They met with kippot crocheters, tallitot weavers and mezzuzot beaders. This interchange was a great experience for our partners because they were afforded the opportunity to meet the people who buy the products they craft. The artisans received their guests with open arms and shared with them how crafting Judaica products has improved their lives and that of their families. We hope that the Fair Trade Judaica journey will be an annual trip to raise awareness of fair trade within the Jewish community.

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Dec 31, 2012

Meet Micro-Loan Recipient Margarita Yax Tucubal

Margarita Yax Tucubal was born 56 years ago in a small village of Tecpán, Guatemala.  She was one of seven children.  Her family had very little money so, from early on in her life, she was expected to find work to help with the family expenses.  At the age of eight, she left her family to work as a domestic in the home of a wealthier family in town. Margarita never attended a day of school.

At the age of 17, she fell in love and got married to a young farmer.  He was a good provider for Margarita and their three children. They were very happy but their happiness wasn't to last.  One afternoon, eight years into their marriage, soldiers came and draged her husband from their home.  She looked all over for him and sadly, after two days, she found his remains.  At 25, Margarita was a widow with three small children. 

To make ends meet, Margarita crocheted sweaters, hats and scarves and sold them in her community.  She also learned to weave.  Soon women came to her to purchase her huipiles, the traditional brightly woven shirts worn by indigenous women in Guatemala.  Within time she began to make products for MayaWorks and leaned to weave on a treadle foot loom with the help of MayaWorks trainings.

With a MayaWorks micro-loan, Margarita has purchased a sewing machine to expand the types of products she can sell. She has also purchased piglets that she cares for until they are ready to be sold at market for a very nice profit.  Margarita is very diligent about paying back her loan and has had several MayaWorks micro-loans to date.  She is an excellent example of how to manage a micro-loan for those young women who are just starting out on their income-generating projects.

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Nov 7, 2012

Opportunities for Economically Marginalized Women

Artisans of San Marcos
Artisans of San Marcos

MayaWorks works with over 125 low income indigenous women in the central highlands of Guatemala. 70% are from extremely poor and remote hamlets of the Chimaltenango and Sololá areas.

Artisans tend to marry very young and, on average, have six children.  Many are single mothers working to support large families on their own.  Most have not completed their primary education.   40% are illiterate.

Our artisan partners are not organized by cooperatives but rather by local weaving groups. They share leadership and, together, decide who will be a part of their group and what products they will make.  MayaWorks has worked with the same 8 weaving groups for over 16 years.

MayaWorks’ Guatemala operation is completely managed by indigenous women since its inception.  These administrators understand the complexities of doing business in Guatemala, speak the artisans’ native language and live in the same communities as the artisans.  More importantly, they are driven by their desire to see indigenous women progress in a country where they are often regarded as less than second class citizens.

MayaWorks believes community development happens through the economic development of women who otherwise have limited ways to contribute to the development and economic stability of their families.  Giving women an opportunity to earn an income from their skills gives them self-confidence and hope for themselves, their children, their family and their village.

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