Oxlajuj B'atz' (Thirteen Threads/Trece Hilos)

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Charitable Organization
, Solola
May 12, 2014 - 10:36am
Lake Atitlan + Chimaltenango, Xela + Western Highlands, Pacific Coast, Quiche + Verapazes
Ana Cumatz
5 - 10
Business / Fair Trade, Cultural / Indegenous, Women's Issues

Oxlajuj B’atz’, which means Thirteen Threads, is a non-profit indigenous women’s empowerment and educational organization of the Asociación Tejedoras Unidas - Komon Ajkem (ATUKA) in Guatemala. OB’s fiscal sponsor in the U.S. is the Maya Educational Foundation (MEF), a 501(c)(3) public foundation.

In operation since January of 2004, OB began as a collaborative effort between two Guatemalan-based Fair Trade organizations, Maya Traditions Foundation (MTF) and Mayan Hands (MH), who serve as facilitators to US markets for nearly 300 indigenous women artisans in Guatemala. The original intention was to teach these groups of women business skills and other capacity enhancing abilities.

Initially, OB offered programs to 12 groups of women who work with MH and MTF. Over the past six years, we’ve extended our reach to 27 groups (over 500 women). OB currently provides skills and resources to 20 groups comprised of a strong, well-established network of nearly 400 Mayan women all of whom have signed commitment agreements to participate in OB’s projects and activities. Each group is formed around an income-generating activity (e.g. weaving, candle-making, basketry), with product offerings that are culturally specific to their individual villages. The women involved speak four different Mayan dialects and come from villages scattered throughout rural areas of the Guatemalan highlands and beyond. Eight of them are in the K’iche’ language area, six are from the Kaqchikel dialect, three are from the Tz’utujil region, and three are from where Achi is spoken.

The mission of Oxlajuj B’atz’ is to educate Mayan women artisans to bring about change, through their own efforts, that will alleviate the adverse effects of poverty and improve their quality of life. Our mission is guided by the principles of harmony, democracy, and sustainability.

OB promotes values that are compatible with Mayan culture, while simultaneously collaborating with other cultures.

OB promotes participatory processes that respect diversity of ideas and opinions.

OB encourages sustainability by focusing on opportunities available through an economic, social, and environmental model.

Through the encouragement of Oxlajuj B’atz’, our members become empowered by increasing their knowledge and skills. Their participation in democratically run cooperatives with other women they trust and respect provides them with the ability to earn a sustainable income, which is beneficial to both their families and communities.

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Commentaries / Experiences


Tuve la oportunidad de platicar con algunas de ustedes hace algún tiepmo en mi universidad, ya que pusieron una mesa en donde vendían sus productos. Me comentaron cómo habían iniciado y la forma en la que se organizaban, el proceso de formación del grupo y las luchas que han tenido que enfrentar. ¡Aplaudo la iniciativa y sigan adelante!

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