This last year has been one of expansion for Mayan Hands and we are delighted to introduce our three newest cooperatives. Each had its own path in finding us - or us them - and, in turn, its own journey as our work together continues. We are thrilled to accompany these women and learn side by side. And we are so grateful, as are the women, to our donors who supported the outreach to new artisans.
The El Triunfo cooperative grew from the El Adelanto group of basket weavers. Due to many factors, including the difficulty of travel, several of the women decided it was time to grow a new cooperative. Because many had worked with Mayan Hands for years, they understood how we work and quickly established a junta, board of directors and selected a leader who would oversee the business of orders, supplies and delivery of products. It took courage to take on the responsibilities of establishing a new coop and developing their own new designs, but now the women are working on their first order.
The demand for Mayan Hands pine needle baskets continues to grow, so we are in the fortunate position to know that if we are able to help a group of women to learn the skill, they will have work. Agexport told us about a group of women basket weavers in Sololá and Gloria Chonay, leader of Las Gladiolas basket weaving coop in Chimaltenango, agreed to teach them the technique of weaving with pine needles. Imagine her surprise on the first day to learn they were not basket weavers, but beaders! The numbers of women have ebbed and flowed and the core group that emerged is now a cooperative, San Francisco, that has created its first designs. Gloria committed to another round of lessons to perfect their technique and we cannot wait to give them their first orders!
We met the women from our new crochet cooperative, Trabajadoras del Lago, just one year ago, when we were seeking more women to work on crocheted products. They showed us their fine samples and we were excited to know that we could offer them a price higher - and more fair - than the one they requested. The women had the skills of their trade, but needed support with other aspects of their new business. So we developed a series of workshops led by our fieldworkers Nancy and Mayra and women from other Mayan Hands cooperatives. The women learned about Fair Trade principles, democratic structures, quality control. The next workshop will include color and design. They are already crocheting beautiful kippot and we are excited to see the new ideas that will emerge.