While living in Panajachel, working with local artisans to make our products and giving to schools around the Lake with Mayan Families we began learning more about the various organizations around the area doing wonderful things. There was one organization in particular that we were very interested in getting to know, just down the street from us, called Maya Traditions.
The organization was founded in 1996 and has a very inspiring story that started with a wonderful woman named Jane Mintz who lived in San Francisco. In 1988 Jane first began working with indigenous women artisans in Guatemala. As she came to know many indigenous weavers, she saw the true impoverishment that they lived in. Jane began to help them with their designs, giving feedback to help improve the quality of the work to make it more marketable in the United States.
She observed that the women’s skill of backstrap weaving was a chance for them to earn a more stable income for their families.
Since then, they have expanded into a fully functioning nonprofit where not only are they creating a sustainable income for these families, but they also offer complimentary social programs that reach out to over 500 families. Everything about this organization seemed very like minded to Life Out of the Box and we couldn’t wait to meet them, so we set up a meeting with the two ladies who now run the show: Erin & Pamela.
We met them at their main office just down the road from our house in Panajachel. We walked in from the little ally way it was down and emerged into a beautiful garden with a Mayan woman weaving fabric on her knees under a gazebo. It was breathtaking. We walked in and met Erin & Pamela, who started us off with a nice tour of their place. We walked into their fabric/design studio filled with beautiful items from leather bags to colorful fabrics and more.
We went upstairs to their gift shop that was filled with beautiful handmade items like scarves, belts, tote bags and even Christmas ornaments! It was a beautiful display, the best we’d seen so far in Central America. We were very impressed with the inventory they had produced with the artisans they worked with.
We sincerely enjoyed talking to Erin & Pamela in their beautiful building as we exchanged stories of developing products & helping kids through education around the Lake. We were all on the same page so we all instantly connected. Their educational programs were making a great impact on the kids of their artisans and we wanted to help them out in any way we could.
We left the meeting smiling, feeling inspired–like we had just learned a lot and had made some new friends in Panajachel. If you’re ever in the area, we suggest you check out their spot–they offer tours of their gorgeous organic medicinal garden, their lovely building and shop filled with handmade goodies. To learn more, check out their site http://mayatraditions.com/.