Asociación Maya de Desarrollo
Well-organized, orderly and with high quality-consciousness these Mayan women creates a future together.
In June 1987, the villageleaders in Triunfo, Pujujuil where looking for a solution to the incredible poverty that existed in life in the mountains. With technical assistance from a Canadian volunteer, they started a small weaving project in the village. News of work with fair wages spread and many women from surrounding areas came to seek work in the group. What began as a self-help project with seventeen weavers, most of them widows of political repression inflicted on villages in the early 80's, have gradually grown to include two hundred women in a well-organized and autonomous cooperative.
In March 1990, the members formally elected their first governing council with seven women to the board of directors and the election to the Board are held every two years. Without formal training and only speaking their indigenous languages, kakchikel, these women have succeeded in the difficult task of controlling a growing complex cooperative business. They have held training courses in tailoring, literacy and organization. The goal is to create work for Mayan women who weave with backstrap looms. It is generally known that weavers are very exploited at both the national and international markets. All Asomadek's members are weavers from around Pujujil and Los Encuentros. Asomadek now has an office on a small side street in Sololá, a simple single storey house near the edge of a plateau overlooking Lake Atitlan and the three large volcanoes that surround it. The house consists of four small rooms, one for sewing, one for cutting, one for sales and a place for the management of an aging computer.
"The women weave in their own homes," said Maria Cuc, responsible for the quality level in the cooperative. In the current situation they are under way to extend the house with more surface area for dye and weaving. Two larger houses with meeting room are also available in the mountains near the members' homes. They have meetings and briefings for the orders, the delivery of the shawls they weave at home, and perhaps most important - paying their wages that occurs once a month.
Rosa, who is responsible and a trained dyer for any mix of colors and often work in finding new wonderful shades of the bamboo thread that the women use to weave shawls. All members weaves backstrap looms and trained in the cooperative in order to maintain the high quality of fabrics. A piece that is about 40 centimeters wide and three meters in length will take about three to three and a half days to weave. The payment is more than twice (often triple) for what they would receive if they sold the fabric on the local market.
Each woman will also receive a year's supply of extra bonus 'health money' at the end. "Obviously we would like to be able to pay even more, but we compete with cheap products made by industrial and computerized looms so we have to think about getting together work to members while balancing profits and payment." Maria Cuc points out while she continues to checks the new scarves that just arrived from the weaving house in the mountains.