Friendship Bracelets, by Mayan Hands
Mayan Hands is a fair trade nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering Mayan women in their quest to bring their families out of extreme poverty as they continue to live within the culture they cherish. We believe that when provided economic opportunity and income over time, women can build sustainable futures for themselves, their families and communities.
Mayan women are the poorest of the poor in Guatemalan society, with few opportunities for an education or earning a living. Even though they are renowned as textile artists the world over, lack of alternatives and fierce competition forces them to sell their products at very low prices, sometimes under cost.
We partner with more than 200 women artisans in 13 communities in the Guatemalan Highlands. Working with fair trade for 25 years has brought a sea change in the lives of the women: they speak out, resist domestic oppression, and, counting on a regular income, have more control over their lives; their families eat better and all their children go to school, some even to the university.
In addition to offering fair wages for their work, we provide other support to our artisan partners, such as micro-lending, training in new skills and techniques, business and leadership development, access to health care, as well as classes in gender role awareness, domestic violence, conflict resolution, and herbal medicine. Like the women we work with, we are especially excited about Mayan Hands Education Fund which provides scholarships to the daughters of our artisan partners and school supplies to all children.
Mayan women love to weave, as weaving keeps them connected to their ancestors, and within the sacred and cultural Mayan universe. Through your fair trade purchase of their fine handmade products, you too are connected to our remarkable artisan partners and help to keep their rich cultural traditions alive.