by Max Crosby, Yabal Volunteer
I did a good deal of thinking about my recent visit to the Yabal weaving cooperative in Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan with Yabal’s Production Coordinator, Yesica. The second part of the visit is what really had an impact on me. Once the piñata-making workshop was over, part of Yabal’s Women’s Entreprenuership Training Program, Yesica and a smaller group of the weavers moved on to the second reason for our visit: The group meets regularly to discuss business.
Santa, the president of the cooperative translated, but all of the women in the conversation speak or understand at least some Spanish and K’iche. I wish I had had a video camera. The scene exemplified just what fair trade and social enterprise are all about. This community does not have running water, uses wood stoves and has very little material wealth. But this conversation was in no way primitive, nor was Yesica from the city, dominating the conversation. Instead it was a symphony of language as they discussed deadlines, textile quality, management of the other weavers, prices, and production goals. I loved watching this sustainable collaboration in action.
The fact that ancient Mayan weaving methods are now sought and available all over the world demonstrates how much of a global economy we live in. This is not about charity. Instead, it is about utilizing enterprise to empower less connected communities to partner with others to bring their ancient techniques to the modern consumer… and benefiting all along the chain.
I’m grateful for this experience and look forward to future visits to the community soon.