Today was the presentation of a grant to Mujeres Analizadoras so we met with nearly the entire group in their workplace. Julia is the president of the group. Fifteen of the women were present and they were all excited to receive the grant of $250 to benefit their business. Grant applicants were required to fill out a 3 page application and one question they answered was ´how will you use the grant money if you are selected?´ Mujeres Analizadoras will use it as a revolving fund to help them buy materials more economically -at a wholesale price. Eventually they will use some of the grant to help 4 more women join the group and earn an income by teaching them the weaving and beading.
To get to their little workshop which is part of Julia´s house, you get off the chicken bus on the highway and walk down a narrow path through the cornstalks for about 1/8 mile and there is a small community of homes and also Julia´s house. In the rainy season it is a difficult trek because the ground is a slippery lot of mud. So much of their daily lives are difficult and strenuous and it is dificult to put into perspective for us from the U.S.
Judy, a volunteer with Education And More had brought a large amount of sewing supplies which was a gift from the women at her church in Portland Oregon. The gift included scissors, needles, thimbles, embroidery thread, yarn, etc and the women´s group were thrilled. They were extremely grateful and appreciative for the grant money and the sewing supplies. They presented Judy and I with a small token of their appreciation which was a hand woven, hand made purse.
Education And More purchases jewelry for Mujeres Analizadoras and they make some beautiful, high quality pieces. We take a sample of what we want and they craft it, keeping track of the time it takes to make it and what the cost of materials are for each piece. We purchase the materials for the products in advace for them because typically they can´t afford to buy materials themselves. This is one of the guidelines of Fair Trade — giving advance credit or purchase of materials in advance when needed.
The group does quality checks on their work but in checking our order this time we found some problems and ask them to correct them and work on their quality checks. A new product we are working with them on is tortilla baskets. They are doing wonderful designs in several styles of baskets and we will have them available soon. They collect the natural reeds, dry them then weave the baskets.
Many of the women of Mujeres Analizadoras are widows or their husbands have just left them so they are trying to support their family by themsleves. It is very gratifying to work with and help this group of women who are such hard workers and it is also very rewarding to watch this group grow and develop their business and we look forward to a close relationship with them for years to come.