Gracias Pulsera Project
The women of Mayamam Weaving Cooperative are thrilled with the new gas stoves and water filters they are enjoying in their homes, thanks to a grant from Pulsera Project. Pulsera Project is a non-profit organization that works with artisans in Central America and with many schools in the U.S. They educate young North Americans about the realities facing many people who live in Central America, especially Nicaragua. Through sales of artisans’ products, they are able to expand economic opportunities in several Central American countries, then return the profits to these same communities through scholarships, housing programs, workers rights advocacy and environmental initiatives. The stoves and gas filters were part of an "Artisan Benefits Initiative".
The Pulsera Project began with a group of American visitors to Nicaragua in 2009 who were inspired to sell “pulseras” or bracelets back in the U.S. that had been made by a group of young artists outside of Managua. They now employ over 200 artisans in Nicaragua and Guatemala and raise funds to reinvest in the communities where they live. Mayamam Weavers is delighted to work with Pulsera Project, making custom cross body bags as well as some of the wristbands that are sold across college and high school campuses in the U.S.
Last fall, they invited Mayamam Weavers to participate in their Artisan Benefits Fund. They offered a grant of $10,000 to the cooperative and empowered the women to choose how the money would be spent. The only stipulations were that the money was to be used to improve everyone’s sense of well-being and that they would arrive at the decision through a democratic process. (The Mam culture is based on consensus, so this part of the requirement was simple.)
The weavers began brainstorming ideas, making a list of items that would improve their lives. They came up with a wide variety of essentials which included stoves, beds, vitamins, water filters, land, pots and pans, food and housing. They took a quick vote to see which items on the list were the most popular ideas, and then they analyzed the ideas with the most votes. They arrived at a consensus on how to spend their grant. They determined that the best way was divide it among 1) gas stoves for every member of the cooperative 2) water filters for every member and 3) to cover some of the expenses from our recent health survey.
Several exciting days at the beginning of this year saw these ideas come to fruition. A bus was rented and everyone took a long ride to the capital, Guatemala City for a visit to the dentist. For some, this was their first visit to the dentist ever.
From there, came the shipment of water filters--one for each person to take home in order to ensure that they and their families are drinking clean water.
And finally, the delivery of 23 stoves!! They were delivered to each house, unpacked and set up. It is much less expensive to run a gas stove than to buy wood to burn, and it is healthier too. Now, it's time to get cooking!
We are grateful for the relationship we have with Pulsera Project and thankful for the water filters, stoves and trip to the dentist! Chjonte!
For more information on The Pulsera Project, visit their website at http://www.pulseraproject.org/