Christobalina Colaj Mux worked twelve hours a day, six days a week sewing clothes and still couldn't support her seven children and husband who lost his arm and a job. She now stands before a small group of women along with her sister who has invited her to this gathering - together the women are forming a cooperative, promising steady work weaving in the traditional ways she loves, a living wage, as well as free education and skills training. She's excited; she's nervous - is it too good to be true?
Christobalina lives in an indigenous community in Guatemala, one of the poorest populations in the Western Hemisphere; also ranking one of the worst places in the world in incidents of violence against women. Moving out of those conditions into hope takes big courage.
Mercado Global is an on-the-ground non-profit in Guatemala that organizes cooperatives for women like Christobalina to leverage their skills into real income, offering design help, supply centers, organization, and exposure to global markets by wholesaling their goods to Ibu and many other retailers worldwide. They also leverage the courage of women into self-confidence through a program they call, Power to Change.
About the program, Cristobalina said, “It has taught me about leadership and self-confidence, and I feel more empowered after every training. It’s never too late to make a change.”
Three years after joining the cooperative, Cristobalina is a leader respected within her cooperative and community. All of her children are enrolled in school; two have already graduated. And the beauty she creates out of ancient skills? Chic bags/totes/weekenders which are re-defining the fashion statement into a passion statement. The artisan's face above in wonder? Seeing the bag she wove featured in a major US market. Priceless.
It thrills me that you and I can be a part of this change rumbling among thousands of women like Cristobalina, whose singular courage breaks a brutal cycle of poverty, whose confidence daily undermines the culture of violence against women, and whose family is fed. And it all started with a sister, inviting one woman into a new world.
I want to be that sister. Don't you?
All the Best,
Susan Hull Walker
Susan Hull Walker