December 21, 2018
Just like the rest of the world, here at Hiptipico we like to do something special around the holidays to celebrate the people we get to work with and show our gratitude for their hard work all year. While in the United States it’s typical to receive your holiday bonus in the form of cash, due to cultural differences, it doesn’t work quite like that here in Guatemala! Many of the women we work with are responsible not only for caring for their families day to day, but also providing the paycheck. We pay our artisan partners more than fair wages to help ease this burden, but that doesn’t make them immune to societal pressure here. For many, if we were to send them home with Quetzales (our local currency) in hand, their husbands unfortunately may take it and put it towards themselves or whatever they see fit.
This “machismo” as it may be known as here has led to holiday traditions adapting a little differently. Here it is very typical to receive “canastas” (gift baskets as we know them in the US) around the holidays, filled with things that specifically the women or children in the family will enjoy. So we did just that!
Instead of buying a basket straight from the store, we chose to go the extra mile and make them ourselves, with goods our Guatemalan office staff recommended the women would appreciate the most. We chose rice, sugar, beans, cooking oil, pasta, snack crackers, and christmas cookies for the kids, all packed in to a basket the women would be able to use time and time again. Wrapped in cellophane with a bow on top, we were ready to do some giving!
Once again, we wanted to take it a step further. On their next visit to our office, we invited the members of our Chontalá Weaving Cooperative to bring their children and celebrate the year with a pizza party. Little did they know we’d planned gifts for them as well! With help from our whole team we were able to host 12 women and 12 kids for an amazing afternoon. Each woman got to leave with her gift basket and portraits we’d taken of them on our last visit to Chontalá. As outsiders, it seemed a little strange to us to be gifting cooking supplies, but the smiles on their faces let us know we’d done something right!
After food, gifts, and our thank you to the women, we headed outside for their thank you to us. Every person who’d joined us -a total of about 30- formed a circle outside in our garden and the women asked us if we could all pray together. They prayed that our customers would like their embroidery and want to buy our products, so that they could continue to weave every day and provide better lives for their families. Manuela, who typically acts as their figurehead, told us that they pray for this every day.
For our customers it is just one purchase, but this moment reminded us just how big of an impact one strap can make! One strap means anywhere from 3-15 days of work for one of these artisans, a stable income, and better opportunities for the children that got to join us this day! Of course, since nothing ever ends on a serious note around here, we then spent the remainder of our afternoon playing just about every game you could think of! There was a classic tickle-fest, duck duck goose (or “pato pato ganso” as the kids will remind you), eye-spy, and even a version of marco polo.
A group picture to commemorate an unforgettable afternoon, and the families and their baskets were off again on the back of a pickup, to Chontalá.