March 8th is International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to celebrating women and their achievements. Sharing the Dream is fortunate to work with many amazing women. Many of the artisans are women, the elders at the Elder Center are primarily women, the majority of the scholarship students are girls and young women, and Sharing the Dream is a women led organization. We have found that by working with women, it improves their self-esteem. This improved self-esteem means that their entire family, including their husband, looks at them differently, and often times treat them with more respect and equality. Women also invest in the health, education, and general well-being of their children and family, which leads to positive changes in future generations.
Isabel, our Artisan Development coordinator, is one of these amazing women. Years ago, a little girl from a mountain village was introduced to Diane. She wanted to go to school, but her father had died and there wasn’t any money. Even though she was only in middle school, she would go to school in the morning and weave by candlelight at night to earn a little money. She was malnourished and the family ate primarily tortillas and salt. They spoke very little Spanish. The man who introduced them asked for a scholarship for Isa so that she didn’t have to weave at night. A generous woman from Sharing the Dream sponsored Isabel through middle and high school.
Isabel lived at the Sharing the Dream office during high school and cleaned in exchange for her rent. It was then that we discovered her talent for a variety of handicraft techniques. Isabel started as an assistant to our Artisan Development coordinator, and when that person left, Isa was hired in that position.
Years later, Isa is still with Sharing the Dream and is doing a great job. Her shyness disappeared as she became more confident. She is now married and has two little boys, who are healthy, well-nourished, and well loved. Her oldest son goes to school, which he loves. Isa is proud of her family.
What a difference having an opportunity made for this shy village girl. Isa is poised, accomplished, a terrific mother, and a wonderful role model. Isa was given a chance. That is what most people here need. By purchasing a product from Sharing the Dream, you are providing opportunities to people in Guatemala so that they can provide for their families and change their lives.
Sharing the Dream in Guatemala
Diane Nesselhuf is Sharing the Dream in Guatemala's director and founder.