Entrepreneurial Women of Cotzal
"Many of us suffered first hand from the civil war, and others are daughters of parents who lived through the conflict. And yet, these difficult times taught us to hold our heads up high...""It's a pleasure to introduce ourselves – we're a group of 30 women from San Juan Cotzal who make a living through our skills on the back strap loom. We enjoy weaving with cotton as well as with maguey (agave) threads.
"We craft very nice things, and we couldn't be prouder to be able to set an example to our children as well as our community. Our group was borne out of the pain that swept across our land – us Guatemalan hurt each other.
"We were in the eye of the storm – we are part of the Ixil Triangle - the most affected area during Guatemala's armed conflict. Many of us Maya women were left widowed or orphaned; we were left completely alone. We lost everything: family, friends, homes, fields and animals. We were run off our lands and we were left without the means to earn a living.
"Many of us suffered first hand from the civil war, and others are daughters of parents who lived through the conflict. And yet, these difficult times taught us to hold our heads up high – we knew we had to be strong and we knew we had to rise above it. We got together and formed a group to improve and strengthen our earnings by way of using our textile heritage and the materials we know so well.
"Those in charge of the village parish began to organize women weavers in 1990, and so the group began to take shape. Through the years, the group kept evolving and we formed a cooperative. We support each other and we formed family ventures by creating alliances for the development of orchards, stoves with a little use of wood, building houses, etc.
"Creating this group has had a positive impact on the lives of many women and their families. Through our handcrafted products, we've been able to generate an income that has improved the quality of life for our children with regards to education and food.
"Not only has this group taught us new things and how to achieve them – it has also filled our hearts with happiness. We're constantly training, learning new techniques and improving our quality. In 2009 we took part of an activity along with other groups and organizations and we were awarded first place because we delivered a high quality product on time, well finished and with a lovely combination of colors.
"We're very happy that Novica has arrived to our community and that Novica customers appreciate our work. Gracias amigos!"