Taped to my refrigerator is E.B. White’s confession, “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. That makes it hard to plan the day.” I feel this way often. There’s so much that needs saving, and there is much to savor, especially on a sparkling fall morning.
I’ve thought of E.B. a few times recently as I’ve found myself lost in the pages of our most recent book, Traditional Weavers of Guatemala: Their Stories, Their Lives. Waterfalls and religious festivals. Cotton spinning, and backstrap weaving. Jaspe and Brocade. Touching portraits of indigenous artisans and their inspiring stories. That’s a lot to savor.
And at the conclusion of Traditional Weavers, authors Deborah Chandler and Teresa Cordón include a list of Supportive Organizations—a two-page reference to groups that work to support Guatemalan weavers and traditional weaving. These organizations are profound examples of how you really can save the world.
One of those listed is Friendship Bridge, a nonprofit that empowers impoverished Guatemalan women to create a better life for themselves and their families through microfinance and education. In 2014 Friendship Bridge loaned 12.9 million dollars and saw a 98.6 re-payment rate, which is phenomenal. The group offers training programs in everything from money management and women’s rights to self-esteem and children’s education.
Mayan Hands is a fair trade organization that works with about 200 women in eight Guatemalan communities to help them out of a life of poverty. Selling their handwoven textiles at a fair price, the women can rely on a regular income, send their children to school, and gain some control over their lives. Watch this in-depth video to learn more about Mayan Hands and the tremendous impact they’re having on the lives of Maya women.
Limitless Horizons Ixil is another nonprofit that creates opportunities for the indigenous youth, women, and families of Chajul, Guatemala, to develop academic and professional skills necessary to improve their lives and their community. Limitless Horizons offers a marketing program to sell the work of the mothers of their scholarship students. Maria Raymundo, one of the artisans featured in Traditional Weavers of Guatemala, participates in this program by selling her weaving.
It’s heartening. It’s humbling. And I’m finding it very hard to plan my day.
Traditional Weavers of Guatemala:Their Lives, Their Stories is available at Powells, Amazon, ClothRoads, and at your favorite bookshop.