Jewelry from Guatemala Gives Women a Second Chance

Kiej de los Bosques fosters and strengthens economic initiatives in rural communities in Guatemala through fair trade. The organization was created to serve as a bridge connecting artisans in impoverished, often remote, areas with active marketplaces throughout the country. Most of Kiej’s 85 artisans are mothers with children under the age of 10. By creating a structure that allows the artisans to work at home, Kiej enables them to generate income while caring for their families. WAKAMI, profiled here, is one of the organizations that Kiej works with to offer employment for women. In response to a request for their wishes for women in 2011, WAKAMI says:

“We dream of an ideal world: One where everyone lives in harmony, where diversity is celebrated, and where rights and responsibilities are treasured!”

Interview with María Felipe Ortiz.
31-years-old, Married, mother of 2 children (6 and 4 years old).
Grupo Nueva Esperanza, Nuevo Montecristo, Retalhuleu, Guatemala

How has working with Kiej/WAKAMI changed your life?
Everything changed. The first thing that it did was improve our financials, because working is the only thing that can help us fulfill all of our needs….  My older son now goes to school, my little girl will also go. With the money that I have, I have the power to buy what my family needs. Now I can dream, and with the money that I have earned I can realize those dreams. I have begun having new hopes again. We in the group are proud and happy because they reached out to us to help and we responded.

What would you like to say to the people who purchase the products that you make?
When customers buy our products, they should know that we have produced them with our dreams and hopes in mind. Our production is not only quality, but it also gives us work and the drive to continue. I hope that they keep purchasing, because this is strength for our group.

What are your hopes for the women of Guatemala for the coming year?
My wish for the women of Guatemala is that they have the opportunities that we have had. I want to tell them to keep up the desire to continue preparing themselves for work and for their studies so that we can make more of our lives. If we have these things, then no one can hold us back. Power to Women!!!

Interview with Sandra Solares
33 years old, divorced, mother of 2 children (13 and 11 years old), her mother and handicapped brother live with her

Grupo: Primavera, Monte Redondo Guatemala

How has working with Kiej/WAKAMI changed your life?
WAKAMI really changed my life. Now I am a professional. At the end of last year, with much effort, I received my certification to be a middle school teacher. Ever since I was a child, I had this dream, but since I never had the resources, I was at a standstill. Now I am in charge as the Director of a learning center. I believe that education will open doors for us, and with WAKAMI I have not only been able to pay for my studies, but I have also been able to pay for my daughters’ educations. I believe that their lives will be different, because they will have the chance for a better education. But we still have time for WAKAMI, because I like it, the work fascinates me and suits me.


As the leader of a group, I no longer produce but I coordinate the production. Because of my role, I know that working with WAKAMI has changed the lives of the other women that I work with. They have invested the money that they earn in fulfilling their dreams: improving their houses, providing more food and better nutrition for their families, and helping their husbands with household expenses.

What would you like to say to the people who purchase the products that you make?
If I could meet one of our customers, face to face, I would say that they should buy our products because by doing so they are helping many people realize their dreams. I would tell them that their purchase allows us to have a better life. I would tell them that all of us that are making these products do it with much effort and dedication, because we know that if you are a client of WAKAMI, you deserve the best.

What are your hopes for the women of Guatemala for the coming year?I wish that all women will continue to fight for what we want, that we will never allow anyone to mistreat us or discriminate again us. The women of the world and of Guatemala are very powerful, so if we put our minds to it, we can accomplish great things!

Click here to learn more about Kiej de los Bosques and purchase their products >>


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