We knock on your door once more this season to ask for your kind support. Our mission at Mayan Hands is to provide work and find markets for our talented artisan partners in Guatemala. Earning a fair wage for their work is the most direct path to dignity and empowerment. To sustain our mission, reduce costs and expand our market, Mayan Hands completed a major project this year by moving our distribution center from Maryland to Albany NY. This new location will help us more effectively pursue our goals.
Your generous donation assists our artisan partners and their children in many ways. One hundred percent of your gift directly benefits the women and their families.
One of these ways is to provide girls access to education. A few weeks ago, re received reports from scholarship recipients, daughters of Mayan Hands artisans. These girls, some in high school, a few at the university, are studying hard and are dreaming of a brighter future. Thanks to your support, 39 girls are on their way to realizing that dream of a better future!
Arguenia, 21, just finished high school last month. She writes, "I live next to Lake Atitlán and I just love the lake so much, to sit by the pier and enjoy the landscape and read. I hope to go to the university and study economics. I would love to see the world and receive a scholarship to study in a foreign country. I wand to be an example of what a girl can achieve if she works hard."
Contrast Arguenia's bright dream with the harsh reality of life for so many Mayan girls in Guatemala. UNICEF calculates there are thousands of girls from 10 to 14 getting pregnant every year and many underage pregnancies are unreported. It's a huge problem whose roots lie in poverty and lack of opportunity plaguing Mayan communities, especially for women. Families living in extreme poverty either don't send their daughters to school or pull them out early to marry them off or send them to live with a man. In such desperate situations, parents make difficult choices in order to have on less moth too feed and are often relieved someone else will be responsible for the girls. ("Guatemalan Girls Caught in Cycle of Pregnancy, Poverty," May 2015, www.azcentral.com.)
In addition to scholarships, your donations accomplished the following in 2015:
- Made it possible for 80 of our artisan partners to visit an eye doctor. Many received eyeglasses and those who were diagnosed with glaucoma or infections received much-needed medications.
- Hosted Kate Colwell, M.D. who worked with basket makers to alleviate pain in their hands, arms and wrists. After evaluations, Doctor Kate provided instruction in hand strengthening exercises and safe working posture and then outfitted many with braces and other devices. Preventing repetitive stress injuries will be an online effort for Mayan Hands. Monitoring and prevention/care workshops are planned for 2016.
- Supported a four-month workshop teaching new weaving techniques to Santiago Atitlán weavers. This professional development will give weavers more versatility and improve their prospects in the marketplace.
- Provided training to new groups of basket weavers from the village of La Fe in Sololá who had been in search of a market for their wares
- Distributed school supplies to all school-age children of our artisan partners. They'll be ready when the new school year begins in January!
Together we accomplished much this year, but there is more to do! Our wish list for 2016 includes:
- Increase the number high school and university scholarships for girls from 39 to 45.
- Provide nutrition workshops for all of our 200 artisan partners to encourage healthy eating in their communities.
- Assist recent high school graduates to assess their options, including continuing their studies, finding a job or obtaining a microcredit to start their own businesses.
- Offer professional development opportunities to our artisan partners including a design and technique workshop to be taught by NY-based fiber artist Sharon Costello, planned for April 2016.
Your support will make these dreams and so much more come true. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of Mayan women and their children with your gift!