We are writing with great news: Thanks to you, 15-year-old Damaris Chonay is on her way to her new secondary school, moving closer to her dream. She wants to become a doctor and bring medical care to her community where there is none. Damaris lives in a Mayan agricultural community in Guatemala where her family resides in a small cement home with dirt floors. Because of your generosity, her family will be able to afford transportation to the new school and her tuition, uniform, textbooks and supplies.
Damaris’ step forward is an amazing accomplishment given the dismal statistics for indigenous women in Guatemala. According to the UN Women and the Global Education Fund, Mayan girls average only three years of schooling, and less than 30% of indigenous girls enroll in secondary school. Damaris is one of many you’ve helped overcome gender inequality and poverty. Last year, 38 daughters of our artisans completed the school year thanks to your donations.
Scholarships are one way in which you help improve the lives of Mayan women. You also help promote the wellbeing of artisans and their families through programs that enhance their earning capacity. Highlights of those programs in 2017 include: training and supervision for two new groups of basket weavers; introduction of “painted warps,” a technique that will revitalize products of our partners in San Rafael; ergonomic training to prevent repetitive stress injuries, a problem for Mayan Hands felters and basket makers; creation of a nursery of the pine trees used to produce our baskets so that artisans will not need to travel long distances to collect pine needles.
Several of these programs led to the creation of successful new products that translate into increased sales directly benefitting artisans. Through our fair trade model and marketplace network, the 13 groups working with Mayan Hands sold more of their weavings, baskets and needle-felted animals in 2017 than ever before.
It is challenging for most Mayan women in Guatemala to earn a living using their artistic traditions. Despite long hours and months of work, selling their weavings often yields only a few dollars. Many artisans lack safe drinking water and rely mainly on corn tortillas as their sole food staple. Their children, especially the girls, are forced to leave school to work. With your donation, Mayan Hands can reach out to more women artisans and help them access markets so that they can earn income to send their children to school, access health care and improve their families’ diets.
Please make a year-end gift so Mayan women can work toward self-sufficiency benefitting their families and communities. Your generosity empowers them to overcome obstacles of poverty and discrimination. Please give your gift today. Our artisan partners count on your contribution. Your investment in their future will make a tremendous difference!
Thank you so much for your generosity!