A letter and update from our Founder and US Director, Diane Nesselhuf
Life is hard.
Yes, life is hard. I think we are all feeling that at different levels. It reminds me of a story I just heard from a man who had recently arrived in Guatemala.
The man said he had been in Guatemala for a few months when he was invited to a Guatemalan’s home. The local man introduced him to his family, which included sisters, brothers and his mother. The newly arrived man saw a faded brown photo of an older man on the wall. When the local saw him staring at the photo he said, “That is my father. He is dead.” The man said, “I am so sorry,” and the local man replied, “Life is hard.”
How many of us would say that after someone sees a photo of one of our loved ones? I don’t think I would nor would most people. So, what does that mean to me?
It means that most of us are very fortunate in this country. (Not all of us, I understand that). We are now facing a time in our lives where we might be reevaluating our priorities. We might be saying, what really counts in life? What am I living for? How do I make a difference? These are all good thoughts. They make us more humane, they make us better people.
The organization Sharing the Dream, like families, also needs to reevaluate our mission. Our mission statement is, “Friends of Sharing the Dream in Guatemala is a volunteer based fair trade organization that reduces poverty in Guatemala through collaborative partnerships with Guatemalans.” I don’t think our mission has changed right now. How do we collaborate and work with our elders and artisans? Many times when hard times hit, our first response is to give out food. We must do this with our elders as they have no other means of support. What about our artisans?
I was visiting with our Guatemalan director, Lauren, the other day, and we were talking about how we work WITH our artisans. How do we work so they feel equal? We decided that giving out food wasn’t the answer. If we truly want to be in partnership, we must give them work. Many of our artisans have been asking us for work. We need to prioritize the needs of each group and also see what crafts we need here in the U.S. This is where you come in, our American partners.
I want to thank all of you who have given a donation and/or bought items from our online store. We have seen great results. I was looking at the results from our online store from March 1 to April 25 last year and compared it to this year. We have sold 10 times more than last year online. Hurray!!!! This is vitally important since our two stores are closed and we don’t have any outside sales. What about our donations using the same comparisons? We have taken in 3 times more than last year. What does this mean? It means we can give our artisans work. Our jewelry makers were out of work, but we are giving them a big order. We can order fall fabric so that our weaving groups have work. A basket group in the jungle needs work desperately, so we are going to order baskets. We always give the artisans 50% upfront so they will have money to start the order and money for their families.
Your orders and donations are having immediate results. We are not giving handouts; we are giving work. Thank you, and thank you from the artisans in Guatemala.
Our volunteers here in the states are working, too, from home. They have been helping us write some postcards that we were able to purchase thanks to a Thrivent grant.
Please continue to think about our Guatemalan friends. Please refer your friends and family to our online store and tell them about our mission. Your donations and purchases are making a huge difference.
Sharing the Dream in Guatemala
Sharing the Dream in Guatemala
Diane Nesselhuf is Sharing the Dream in Guatemala's director and founder.