The Huipil in Danger
Posted by Brenda Rosenbaum on 7/26/2016 to Huipil

“Our huipiles are suffering a kind of desecration.” Mayan weavers in Guatemala are alarmed at the possibility that their huipiles might disappear. They see danger coming from different directions. And they are speaking up about it and looking for solutions.

For Mayan women, huipiles are treasures bestowed upon them by their ancestors. The colors, patterns, and symbols of huipiles express the worldview and values of Mayan culture. Yet, Angelina Aspuac, leader of AFEDES (Asociación Feminina

We are the daughters of our ancient grandmothers who will never die..."
Posted by Brenda Rosenbaum on 6/30/2016 to Huipil
“We are the daughters of our ancient grandmothers who will never die because they live in the universe of our huipiles and our textiles”

These words were spoken by Angelina Aspuac, representative of AFEDES, a Mayan women’s organization, as she presented a petition to the Corte de Constitucionalidad (Constitutionality Court) in Guatemala:

“We Mayan people have our own forms of organization, our own system of health...
A Basket Case
Posted by Anne Kelly on 6/10/2016 to Artisans
If you've looked at our website recently, you may have noticed that some basket designs have disappeared. Not to worry - this is a temporary situation. Here's the back story.

The demand for our beautiful and fragrant pine needle baskets continues to grow and even though more women are making more baskets, we still find our shelves looking rather bare a week or more before the next order leaves Guatemala for the warehouse. It's great problem - but a problem nonetheless. All of us - U.S. team, Guatemala team and of course, our artisan partners - put our heads together to come up with some solutions. This is our plan:
Your donations at work: A new opportunity for Mayan Hands weavers
Posted by Brenda Rosenbaum on 4/19/2016 to Artisans

Just a week ago, we finished a two-week intensive training in irate (or jaspe) dyeing for our artisan partners in Rabinal, Baja Verapaz.  This cooperative of foot-loom weavers is the first group Mayan Hands ever worked with.  The cooperative came to life in the 1980s, during the civil war, as a way to help the many of widows of the conflict in this region find a livelihood.  For twenty five years, Mayan Hands has purchased their beautiful cloth made into placemats, tablecloths, napkins, and handbags. 

After all these years, we wanted to offer this group the opportunity to learn new techniques and create new designs.  We figured that introducing ikat into their cloth

A Woman with an Education: Micaela's Story
Posted by Anne Kelly on 4/14/2016 to Girls Education

It's always exciting to hear from the students who receive Mayan Hands scholarships. At a recent gathering of scholarship recipients and their mothers, the mood was celebratory as one by one girls described their aspirations, their accomplishments and their community service projects. When Micaela's turn came, everyone listened carefully as hers was a very special story, which she offered to inspire and encourage her fellow students. Here in her own words is what she had to say about starting school as an adult:

"I always wanted to go to school, but I couldn’t when I was a girl. Later, when I was an adult, I sometimes thought about it, but I had no idea how to do it. I was afraid to even register because I didn’t know how to read or write, not at all. 

"What finally motivated me was when I was in the Mayan Hands office and we had to create an invoice, but I couldn’t do it. I thought to myself, this has to stop, now. I need to learn to read and write. I knew that Mayan Hands provided scholarships for girls, for the daughters, and I knew another weaver was going to high school. Finally I decided to apply.

Visit to Iximché
Posted by Deborah Chandler on 1/18/2016 to Artisans
Las Ruinas de IximcheOur final stop was to see the Mayan ruins of Iximché. None of the women had ever been there before and even though we were pushing it on time, they voted to go, saying their husbands would never do it.

What a delight. They pored over every piece in that tiny museum as if it were a whole college course. I came to them all staring at two skulls and when I asked if one was their uncle, they laughed a lot. I know what impacted me most seeing the skulls there was that for the first time I understand that some of the women we ...
"There are no normal people here, are there?"
Posted by Deborah Chandler on 1/17/2016 to Artisans
This story gives me a constantly-repeating opportunity to just sit down and laugh hard, too hard to keep standing up. I wish I had it all on camera.

The hippies that used to sell their jewelry on the streets of Panajachel have all moved to San Pedro. In addition, San Pedro has the reputation of being the recreational drug capital of Guatemala. If you want it, it's there. So with that as a backdrop...

The women decided that instead of going straight to the docks we would walk around a little, to see what this other town looked like...

On My Best-of-Life List
Posted by Deborah Chandler on 1/14/2016 to Artisans
About two hours ago I left the dye team women of San Rafael - Gilberta, Abelina, Berta, Fulgencia, and Elvira - at the bus station to head home. They will get home late tonight, a nice, if exhausting, balance to having left home by bus three days ago at 4 am. I cannot express how happy I am with this trip, how utterly satisfied and excited I am, and lots more phrases like that. 

The first few hours in San Juan were spent in the store Corazón del Lago with Chica, the young woman who came to the Mayan Hands dyeing workshop in San Rafael. It was dazzling...
Weaving Hope
Posted by Brenda Rosenbaum on 12/17/2015 to Artisans
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 this 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, we received reports from scholarship recipients, daughters of Mayan Hands weavers. These girls, some in high schools and a few at the university, are studying hard and dreaming of a brighter future.

Arguenia, 21, finishes high school this year. She writes, "I live next to Lake Atitlán and I just love the lake so much, to sit by the pier, enjoy the landscape and read. I hope to go to the university and study economics. I want to be an example of what a girl can do if she works hard."
360° Fair Trade
Posted by Anne Kelly on 10/26/2015 to Fair Trade
As a founding member of the Fair Trade Federation, we are deeply committed to fair trade - it's at the heart of what we do and fair trade principles guide our decisions every day. 

Like other FTF members, we strive to build meaningful, trusting relationships with our artisan partners and to act as good global citizens through all our work. Recently, the Fair Trade Federation shared new messaging about what it means to be fully committed to fair trade as a FTF member. The concept of 360° fair trade is meant to express this deep commitment.  

 Fair Trade
 Girls Education
 Mayan Hands
 Natural Dyes

 The Huipil in Danger
 We are the daughters of our ancient grandmothers who will never die..."
 A Basket Case
 Your donations at work: A new opportunity for Mayan Hands weavers
 A Woman with an Education: Micaela's Story
 Visit to Iximché

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MAYAN HANDS is a non-profit, fair trade 
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women in their quest to lift their families out of extreme poverty as they continue to live within the culture they cherish.
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