One main road leads to Las Cruces San Andres Semetajab, a quiet town in the Highlands of Guatemala. The streets are lined with a few tiendas or convenience stores, its fields are filled with corn and other vegetables, and women and men walk about in their colorful traditional Mayan clothing, known as traje. Despite its beauty and serenity, the rural and isolated location makes it difficult for the town’s talented artisans to access markets and earn income from their craft.
With the support of Mercado Global, a group of extraordinary women came together and took a collective step to change their futures. They were inspired by stories of women from a local Mercado Global partner cooperative. After several meetings with Mercado Global, they decided to form their own cooperative with 15 women and officially launched in April 2016 with the name Tejiendo Conocimiento or Weaving Knowledge. The launch marked the beginning of the women’s journey to become more skilled artisans, entrepreneurs, and community leaders.
In mid-May, Mercado Global held its second set of bi-monthly trainings focused on advanced sewing techniques and healthy cooking. Speaking in their native language, known as Kaqchikel, our two Community-Based Education Trainers made the women feel comfortable and confident in learning new skills and information about their important everyday decisions. Despite their early morning shyness, the women opened up during the day, sharing their experiences along with smiles and laughs as they practiced sewing and stirred the ingredients of the day’s recipes.
These trainings are exemplary of the two types of classes offered by Mercado Global — those focused on technical careers and those focused on empowerment. Through technical trainings, women discover ways to advance their careers as sewers and weavers, while the other classes equip them with important life skills, such as financial management, nutritious cooking, and leadership.