The Fundación Tradiciones Mayas
written by Marcelle Renkin photo: Jane Mintz
Fundación Tradiciones Mayas (FTM), based in Panajachel, Lake Atitlán was founded by American social worker Jane Mintz after more than 10 years of fair trade with women’s weaving groups in rural highland communities. FTM’s United States counterpart, Maya Traditions, is a long-standing member of the U.S. Fair Trade Federation and represents the women’s artistry products in international markets. FTM supports its social programs for artisans in health, education and artistry techniques through the non-profit sale of goods, grant writing and fundraising.
FTM works with 86 Maya women and their families, preserving the ancient technique of back-strap weaving and the knowledge and use of medicinal plants in order to strengthen cultural identity. Its goal is to create opportunities for Maya women through fair trade and social programs.
Over the last 13 years FTM has awarded more than 1,000 scholarships to children of the weavers with whom they work and supervised over 40 community-service projects. It has also helped a weaving group buy community land and build a community house. The FTM “mother garden” has provided low-cost medicinal plant products to members of the weaving group as well as trainings and workshops on preventative health. Women have received workshops in natural dye techniques, pine-needle basket weaving and other artistry techniques.
In 2009 FTM is carrying out a community health project working with traditional Maya healers (Aj’qomaneles) within the Lake Atitlán region to establish a network of professionals that will provide affordable, culturally appropriate consultations and natural medicines to their communities. This year 125 students are receiving scholarships. Teenage scholarship recipients attend two workshops a year to develop leadership skills and plan and prepare a community-service project with the women in their communities. All 86 artisans will also learn about basic design techniques and product development, contributing to their independence and increasing their competitive edge in the artisan market.
Computers and peripherals, financial donations, volunteers.
For information about donations, visits to our medicinal plant garden, educational tours, guided visits to the weaving communities, volunteer opportunities or to purchase from our store, please go to www.mayatraditions.com