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Mayan Hands, a member of the Fair Trade Federation, has been working with fair trade for 20 years. We work with 10 different cooperatives of Mayan weavers in Guatemala. Though recognized the world over as talented artists, Mayan women often live in conditions of extreme poverty, as there are few opportunities for them in the rural villages where they live.
Mayan Hands works to provide women with a fair return for their work, and to empower them in other ways. It connects them with microloans, home improvements, medical assistance organizations. It offers training in all kinds of important topics to make their cooperatives more effective, to improve their and their family’s psychological well being, to work with quality, develop new products, etc.
Mayan Hands offered a workshop in pine-needle basketry to one of its groups that wasn’t making enough selling their traditional products. The teacher was amazed at their talent and skill, as they quickly learned the technique and started right away developing their own designs. Fair trade has tripled the women’s income, given them leverage at home, improved their own and their children’s education. One of the women is going to nursing school, a big leap for women whose own generation or their mothers’ are illiterate!
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