Follow That Thread

Thrums Books has been a longtime fan of Friendship Bridge, the wonderful organization dedicated to empowering the lives of women in Guatemala. The San Antonio Friendship Bridge Circle will host its annual fundraiser trunk show and sale on October 19. In preparation for this important day, San Antonio Circle member Susan Albert sent us this special message. Thanks, Susan!

A thread is many things. Something that links us together, joins with other threads to create textiles to clothe and delight us, or something we follow down unexpected paths. I can easily make the case that textiles connected me with some of my dearest friends, led to wonderful job opportunities, sparked artistic inspiration, and even had a hand in meeting my husband.

Traditional Weavers of Guatemala
Spinning thread in Guatemala. Photo by Joe Coca from Traditional Weavers of Guatemala.

Time travel with me to 2005 and hitch a ride on my thread. We are going to Guatemala for my very first visit! My husband and I share a love for Latin America in all its glorious forms: textiles, art, food, architecture, and people. So, when he suggested a trip to Guatemala, I was all in. His first trip had been during their Civil War, and he was eager to see how the country was faring. For me, it was all about the textiles!

Fruit vendors near Chichicastenango. Photo by Joe Coca.

Ten days took us to Guatemala City, Antigua, Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Tikal and Chichicastenango. It was the beginning of visits too numerous to count. Women in huipils using cell phones. Stacks of textiles at the Bomberos market. Traveling across Lake Atitlan on waters so choppy the boat canopy cracked. Wandering Mayan ruins. Need I go on?

Beautiful Lake Atitlan. Photo by Joe Coca from Traditional Weavers of Guatemala.

These experiences fueled a deep respect and curiosity about the people and their traditions. My thread was listening and led me to the answers. 

Through an article in my local San Antonio, TX newspaper, I learned about an upcoming event to benefit Friendship Bridge, an organization that supports women in Guatemala. The event resonated with me, and soon after I joined the local volunteer group—the San Antonio Circle. Friendship Bridge works to create opportunities that empower Guatemalan women to build a better life through microcredit loans and education. Women become part of Trust Banks who not only serve as co-guarantors on loans, they have monthly meetings where they receive education and form a network and bond that empowers them all.

Participants at a Friendship Bridge meeting. Photo by Susan Albert.

Each trip I take to Guatemala is special yet my three trips with Friendship Bridge (Insight Trips) have touched me in ways that continue to inspire me. I have watched women receive their first loans and sign with a thumbprint. I’ve played games with clients about self-esteem, discussed health, and viewed their businesses which included a butcher shop, school uniform production, weaving coop, and more.

Recipients of Friendship Bridge microloans in their weaving coop. Photo by Mary Albert

As Friendship Bridge has grown to provide more services to these indigenous women, including healthcare, I have grown. With a better understanding of my ability to create change and a new group of dear friends, I continue to support Friendship Bridge. The San Antonio Circle will hold our annual Dos Nancies Tipica shopping event on October 19, 2019. If you are in town, bienvenidos: 

So, when someone asks about your train of thought, tell them you are following a thread. Believe me, it can lead to some remarkable places!

—Susan Albert

Learn more about Friendship Bridge and the women, craft, and beauty of Guatemala in these Thrums Books.

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