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.
With the money they earn from crafting MayaWorks products, mothers are able to send their daughters to school. Silvia works hard sewing MayaWorks baby bibs so Natalí can go to school. Natalí wants to be a teacher when she grows up. She works hard at her studies and attends extra tutoring classes at the Rosa Moya Center. Rosa Moya is a tutoring center funded by MayaWorks. At the center, Natalí receives extra support in her core subject areas as well as access to a small technology lab. Most families do not have access to technology within their homes so students must rely on centers such as Rosa Moya to help bridge the digital divide.
Silvia and Natalí exemplify what MayaWorks is all about: Women helping women. Mothers helping daughters. Present generations paying it forward for future generations. Silvia wants to assure that Natalí will have access to education to the very end. She hopes to see Natalí graduate college and become an independent woman, a woman who has many choices for the future: having a career that fills her with satisfaction, marrying someone who values her contributions as a woman and starting a family. And should Natalí have a daughter, she will make sure she receives an education too. This is how the cycle of poverty will end: a woman will help another woman.
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!
MayaWorks believes, to overcome poverty, it is vital to educate girls which is why we provide daughters of artisans scholarships to help defray the cost of school attendance. Although education in Guatemala is free, parents must pay a registration fee, purchase school supplies and cover transportation expenses to get their children back and forth to school. In many of the communities where MayaWorks operates, children cannot attend school beyond the sixth grade because there are no junior high or high school facilities. The scholarship that MayaWorks helps overcome these barriers.
MayaWorks also works with local schools to set-up tutoring centers in the village so children have access to much needed academic support services within their communities. Children attend one of five tutoring centers where they get help with their homework, receive extra support in their weak subject areas and have a safe place to meet up with like-minded students who want to excel in school.
MayaWorks has set goals for its scholarship recipients. They must maintain a C average in their classes and attend tutoring sessions regularly. It is our hope that MayaWorks scholarship recipients will continuously surpass Guatemala's high school graduation rate of 17%. Currently, MayaWorks scholarship recipients are graduating from high school at a rate of 36%.
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.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.