"In addition to weaving, we've learned, taught and implemented many environmentally responsible practices. For example, we make and use organic fertilizers."
The Weaving Heart group has united more than 200 women from San Martin Jilotepeque who have worked together since 2007, keeping alive the Maya tradition of backstrap weaving. Their goal is to generate income and jobs in the rural communities. The group has received assistance from the Inter-American Foundation and from Tikonel that includes learning, training, product development and marketing as well as administration, and technical help.
Angelica Castro, one of the weavers explains. "All of us are from San Martin Jilotepeque. It's a beautiful community, surrounded by trees and flowers. Ever since I was a little girl, I enjoyed watching my mother create her weavings and I loved to see how the colored threads gave life to her textiles.
"I began learning to weave at the age of six, but I didn't start helping my mother weave little huipil blouses to sell until I was ten. She needed my help, because that way we had more money for food and firewood. Even so, I thank my mother – she always insisted that I study. I didn't finish high school, but I finished elementary school.
"What I like most about weaving is that each design or drawing that I capture in the textiles transmits the culture of my Kaqchikel Maya roots and the beauty of the flora and fauna of our wonderful country.
"We are a solid rural group of women entrepreneurs, capable of promoting women's participation in local economic development. Thanks to our hard work and the support we've received, we are able to offer textiles and home accessories of excellent quality.
"In addition to weaving, we've learned, taught and implemented many environmentally responsible practices in our workshop and in the homes of the women weavers. For example, we make and use organic fertilizers for our crops and we recycle everything we can. Also, our designs are woven with certified cotton, some of them combined with wood from volunteer plantations governed by the forest laws of Guatemala.
"We are proud of our work, of what we've achieved in such a short time. We want you to know that our work is made with love and quality. That's why we call ourselves the Weaving Heart."