Newsletter Winter 2022
HOPE CONTINUES IN GUATEMALA
Women in Guatemala sewing and weaving for a better life! We work with a small group of artisans that we have had long term relationships with paying fair wages & supporting efforts that impact the women and their families. en and their families.
Friends, do us a favor - grab a cup of tea, sit down, relax and catch up on the lives of our friends in Guatemala. We are so grateful for those of you that have followed us and supported Resilient Threads and the Mayan women of Guatemala. I’d say we’re a “mom and pop” store and never intended on having a website – just small and continuing to support women in Guatemala.
In March of 2020, Brian and I returned from our first post retirement trip of 2 months in Guatemala. We began what we thought would be our yearly 2-3 month visit to see our friends and continue our little business Resilient Threads that 100% supports artisans and efforts in Guatemala. That year changed our world. Guatemala was hit hard with lock downs, no public transportation, schools shut and little access to health care. We lost many friends to covid. Resilient Threads suffered because there were very few opportunities for on-site sales and little traction on our website. Thus, we were not able to support the women through sales. We continued to have regular calls and heard the hard realities. Our donations were supporting food insecurity and medical help because they needed it badly. In August this year, we finally returned and it was wonderful and hard. Stories were more easily shared in person and we learned of discrimination, family loss, little work, and fear. The economy continues to suffer. Children are barely back in school and two years of education have been lost. The resiliency and hope continue and we were welcomed by our friends. Saq B’e which is a sewing group we have been with since the inception, shared deeply the loss of Ruperto – Ismari’s husband, one of the women in the group. Memories were shared about what an incredible heart he had. Ismari tearfully shared that he had pain when he saw women, children and elders suffer and he planted the seed in her and their children – “always help people as you are able.” This is the heart of of Saq B’e, The Path of Light.
Sewing with Saq Be’
My good friend Mary Mattie in Spokane, WA, who had this crazy idea to sew with the Saq B’e back in 2018 also returned to Guatemala in August. We spent two days sewing and reconnecting with the women. Their growth in both sewing and confidence in these past years is quite impressive. When new product ideas are introduced, they are so excited to have another means to make extra money. Plus, I’m sure sewing thousands of napkins can get boring! This year, we found uses for all of the leftover scraps of fabric that sat in boxes. They were turned into hair scrunchies, beautiful hanging banners using combinations of color and coasters for your mugs. When women join together in love and support, confidence and change occur. I remember when we were first working with this group, they were shy about discussing wages and anything related to money. A Guatemalan friend shared that people are not asked how much they want to make, but told. This year, with the trust and relationships we have with Saq B’e, we increased wages and have started giving an administration percentage so they can also run their small business. We learn these things together.
Introducing Penny Lark to help continue the mission of supporting women over the long term
Most don’t have a clue what it takes to travel around Guatemala. While it may be a small country, roads are terrible and most of the country is mountainous. Plus, transportation is not always reliable. One day I took a tuk tuk to the lake front and then climbed into the public boat to cross the lake. The boat broke down for about 30 minutes in the middle of the lake. Once across, I found a taxi to go up the very windy, steep hill to travel with Summer and Alison, owners of Penny Lark Finery. Penny Lark is a small business in the Pacific NW that supports women artisans mostly from the US. Summer and I were colleagues in the domestic violence field for many years and our heart for women’s issues continues in different ways. I had been talking with her about a visit. As Brian and I age, we begin to think of how we can continue to support the artisans in Guatemala. Summer and Alison caught the passion as we met with several groups, creating new ideas, products and visions to continue. Our first visit was with Saq B’e. Alison is a trained Montessori teacher and she brought backpacks and an art activity with supplies for the children. A dozen darling children showed up excited and ready! It was so fun to see the mothers and children creating art together. Next was Yabal, a fair trade group in Xela working in a rural area where the whole community was dislocated after a hurricane. They are some of the most incredible weavers in Guatemala. Watching Summer and Alison buy these beautiful products was such a delight to me! The trip continued and their hearts were reminded of how our money can make a difference. Please visit www.pennylark.com and see their beautiful items. Like us, they see this work as social justice!
The new little library – Ruperto’s Bibleoteca
We know that money in women’s hands means families and communities will be better. What about books? Last spring we supported two women from Saq B’e to attend a workshop to learn the importance of reading to children. In 2020, they visited Puerta Abierta, a school in Guatemala that provides a creative learning atmosphere to young indigenous children. They began to see new possibilities for their children. In Guatemala, access to books is limited and it’s rare that you will find them in homes or even schools. Ismari and Eliva, two of the 13 women in Saq B’e came home inspired and dreamed of a little library for their children in the rural neighborhood where their sewing workshop is. Sooooo…….thanks to many donors, we brought recommended books to Guatemala in August. Saq B’e created a sweet little space for children to come hear stories, create art, and begin a love of reading. What we didn’t know was that the women were also excited to expand their own reading skills. Several had little or no education and they too were excited to be surrounded by books. Staff from Puerta Abierta has provided the women with more training and will continue with support. Each week as the women come together to sew, their children experience story time and activities built around the story they heard. They will evaluate as they go and begin to expand out into their neighborhood.
BEAUTIFUL BOOK MARKS TO CONTINUE TO SUPPORT THE LIBRARY. This holiday season we are selling bookmarks designed by a Guatemalan artist. For a $10 donation (or more if you wish) these funds will support the continuation of Ruperto’s Library. Watch for this in our website!
Updates on other groups:
Visiting Corazon de Lago was a bit sad for us. The pandemic forced them to close their storefront which I had Corazon del Lago, Pennylark & Sandi Batz, Pennylark & Sandi visited over ten years ago. 33 weavers supporting their families in a rural village on Lake Atitlan is hard enough. I’m just not sure of the future of this group. Francisca who I met in 2014 lost one of her five sisters last year and the whole family is still grieving. We visited her home for lunch one afternoon which is now where the women meet. They were just finishing a large order of hammocks for one client which gave them a little work but not enough.
Batz is another group in San Juan, Lake Atitlan, with an amazing extended family that we’ve come to know over the years. The whole family considers their work and business as a way to support their community. While we were there, many of the men were up in Canada picking fruit. The good news was that the Canadian government brought them in and paid for transportation and housing and paid fair decent wages. The legal entry means they can easily come home with money in their pockets. Fortunately, Batz has a big client that has kept them going even though tourism mostly stopped during the pandemic. As tourism begins to return slowly, they have plans to start a natural dye workshop for visitors to see and experience the long process of using natural dyes to create gorgeous colors for their products.
La Puerta Abierta – makes me want to return to school!
“Empowering children and families to use creativity, critical thinking and literacy to become innovative problem solvers, agents for change and leaders within their community.” Imagine going to a school with this mission! This is the stuff that gives hope for a different world. Creativity abounds at this school in a beautiful setting on Lake Atitlan. Santiago is where Brian and I have found our second home when we return to Guatemala. Waking up in the morning with birds singing to us, surrounded by volcanos and nature is perfect. Friendships are easy to make at La Puerta Abierta. We love collaborating with Amanda and Juanita, founders of La Puierta. They continue to support the library program with Saq B’e providing ongoing trainings and support. Their skills are top notch and they too LOVE working with Saq B’e. It’s LOVE in action for all of us! Mothers at the school also create whimsical little ornaments with pieces of Guatemala that make anyone smile and want to support them! They are one of Resilient Threads best sellers! Like us, they’re dreamers wanting the world to be better and brighter for children. In 2020, we helped them write a Presbyterian Women Grant which they received. They are sharing the unique style of teaching/learning to other educators in Guatemala. Over two years, 25+ educators in Guatemala have received training and mentoring plus new books to share with their students. If this doesn’t give you hope………
Men In the Mirror, a project that empowers men to be better husbands and fathers
You might wonder what this has to do with supporting women’s artisan cooperatives in Guatemala? Machismo is alive in Guatemala, especially in the church. I often remind Brian that it is here, too. This project has continued to be a passion of Brian’s. He has worked with Rev. Kevin Frederick in Western North Carolina and the Guatemalan facilitator, Rev. Mateo Gonzales to create a course that helps men understand that by becoming more sensitive, open and caring, safety and growth occur within all the family and community. A pilot project has begun in conjunction with a micro-loan project supported through a partnership with Presbyterian women in Western NC and ADEHGUA, a nonprofit in Guatemala. The husbands and sons of the women receiving the loans have begun attending the course. While the women become more independent creating their own businesses and making their own money, often their husbands struggle with loss of control. Men learning to not be violent in their families and communities is a step towards a more peaceful world.
PLEASE CONSIDER SHOPPING WITH US THIS HOLIDAY SEASON, it makes a huge difference in the lives of women in Guatemala!
This year we have several on site sales, home sales, and a few churches selling products for us. Our website is always an easy way and if you don’t see something, send an email and ask. We are always looking for opportunities to share the beauty of Guatemala! You are making a difference! www.resilientthreadsguatemala.org – firstname.lastname@example.org – 509-862-9643
With so very much love and gratitude, Sandi and Brian
Here is where we’ll be this holiday season. Please join us if you can!
October 9 – Fairfield Community Church, Fairfield, WA
October 15 – Presbyterian Women of the PNW
November 6 – Newport Presbyterian Church, Bellevue, WA – 11 a.m.
November 6 – Belmont Presbyterian Church, Belmont, NC (they’re selling for us)
November 12, 13 – Folk Life Festival – Spokane, WA
November 13 – First Presbyterian Church, Spokane, WA
November 20 – Bethany Presbyterian Church/Knox Presbyterian Church – joint sale
November 25, 26 – Festival of Fair Trade, Community Building, Spokane, WA
November 27 – Hamblen Park Presbyterian Church
December 1 – Brenda Doting – home sale – Bellingham, WA
December 2 – First Presbyterian Church, Puyallup, WA
December 9 – Mary Mattie – home sale – Spokane, WA
December 11 – Community Presbyterian Church, Sacramento, CA (they’re selling for us)