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Maya Traditions Foundation

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Nonprofit Overview

Mission: Maya Traditions Foundation aims to empower women artisans, their families, and their communities through Fair Trade and social programs that help to rescue, preserve, and promote their ancestral culture with a focus on backstrap weaving, thereby taking part in a larger positive social change for indigenous communities.

Results: Maya Traditions' complimentary social programs currently reach out to over 7 different indigenous communities and more than 500 family and community members of the artisans with whom we work.

Programs: Fair Trade Market Access Program, Ethical Tourism, Community Health Program, Youth Education Program, Artisan Development Program

Community Stories

36 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

Amazing and Efficient group! I have met some of the artisans in person and felt so loved, appreciated and included. They have genuine hearts and like all of us a desire to take care of their families and lead dignified lives. Maya Traditions is so easy to work with and provide much care and assistance through the whole process. It is a true pleasure to partner with these lovely people.

Client Served

Rating: 4

We had a very nice morning with this community. We met lovely and warm people. We had a lot of fun.

Activities done :
- walk in the forest to reach a beautiful view of the lake.
- weaving training
- tortilla making
- meals with the community

We were accompanied during the activities by a guide, Dina. She has been a very good intermediary with the community.

Great day thanks again!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Maya Traditions is a top notch organization with high quality products and staff that are clearly committed to the mission. A team from our company was able to spend a few days with the staff from MT in Panajachel, Guatemala visiting artisan groups around Lake Atitlan. It was clear that there is a very positive relationship between the Maya women artisans and Maya Traditions staff. Highly recommended!

Client Served

Rating: 5

When I first saw the finished product (My handbag designs) I was blown away by the quality and how perfectly they matched my vision.
The women I communicate with are polite, responsive, helpful and a pleasure to partner with.
Maya Traditions not only provide wonderful opportunities for women weaver artisans but also for small, starting out and limited budget designers.
My whole experience has been nothing but positive.

Anne H.3

Client Served

Rating: 4

The time and the detail and care put in to each piece make Maya Traditions a truly great company to work with

Dani S.1

Donor

Rating: 5

Maya Traditions do amazing things for the local people of Lake Atitlan. My activities (basket weaving, weaving workshop, Mayan ceremony) were informative, fun, and I’d recommend them to anyone thinking of visiting the area.

Lucie V.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered at Maya Traditions Foundation for 3 months (May-August 2019). The working environment is great and the team very welcoming. I was mainly responsible for the Girls' Voices For Change 2019. I had the opportunity to work closely with the partner communities. If you love taking initiatives and having responsibilities while contributing to a meaningful organization, Maya Traditions is the place to work!

Celice Bergendahl J.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As part of my bachelor's degree, I had the honor of doing my internship at the Maya Traditions (October - December 2018). I was primarily involved in assisting in the evaluation of their gender workshops, and was deeply impressed with how their projects raised awareness of gender roles, sexual and reproductive rights and machismo. I gained an insight into how development cooperation worked in practice and saw how it can really make a difference! An amazing experience - which has inspired me to continue to fight for justice and sustainable development!

Lana S.1

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I worked at Maya Traditions for three months doing mostly development and communications work. The team was made up of a handful of long time employees with deep rooted knowledge in their work and the needs of those they serve. As well, there were a handful of fresher faces, as Maya Traditions has a revolving door of foreign shorter contract employees and volunteers. Even though some employees only knew each other for a couple of months, one quickly becomes part of the MTF family. You will be support and direction in terms of need but you will be given the freedom to tackle those tasks as you see fit. I love that you don't always have a set office and so you can work outside in the beautiful garden. The area that you will work in is also a once in a lifetime place to visit, you won't want to leave!

Sarah A.7

Board Member

Rating: 5

This foundation helps change the lives of women and their families everyday by empowering them with education, skills, and confidence.

Armando A.

Board Member

Rating: 4

For the past twenty-three years, this organization has been steadily promoting the preservation of backstrap weaving among the Maya living in rural Guatemala while at the same time using this important tradition as a source of revenue aligned with the fair market values and standards for approximately 90 artisan women organized in 6 cooperatives (https://www.mayatraditions.org/artisans/artisan-cooperatives/). The income these skilled artisans have been able to generate this way has been making a significant difference in the lives of these women's families. This source of income continues to help them address some of their household basic and pressing needs, and is often times allocated to basic health care and to help support their children's education.
Other elements of the mission of this foundation offer (1) continued development of the women artisans skills (https://www.mayatraditions.org/community-programs/artisan-development/); (2) educational workshops and basic treatment of common health issues among the women artisans (https://www.mayatraditions.org/community-programs/health-program/); (3) training to develop and maintain gardens with medicinal plants and their applications; (4) plus educational scholarships for the children of the women artisans (https://www.mayatraditions.org/student-sponsorship/).

Carly B.1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I cannot say enough amazing things about this incredible organization! My company has partnered with Maya Traditions for over 5 years to design and develop beautiful products that preserve the art of back-strap weaving in Maya communities. I have never seen an organization so committed to the development of artisans and their families across all channels of health and economic empowerment. I'm honored to be a part of an organization that is truly making a difference in the lives of women.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with Maya Traditions for 6 months in 2017. The experience was life changing. Living in Panajachel and working with this amazing organization allowed me the opportunity to become fully immersed in the local culture. As a Latin American studies student, I am even more passionate about my studies than before. I can't wait to come back and visit.

1 singingvegan

Advisor

Rating: 5

After seeing the work that Maya Traditions Foundation does with the communities they serve, I decided to volunteer with them. I now support the organization as a website advisor. I continue to be impressed with the organization's commitment to empowering indigenous women, to Fair Trade, and to helping visitors understand the culture through its tours and workshops.

There are many, many nonprofits operating in Guatemala. In my experience, Maya Traditions stands out as an excellent organization.

1 Barbara D.3

Board Member

Rating: 5

A friend introduced me to Maya Traditions and I am honored to have recently joined their board of directors. Maya Traditions provides personal and professional training to Maya artisans in the Lake Atitlán region in Guatemala. MT's mission is to preserve and promote ancestral Maya art and traditions such as backstrap weaving and herbal medicine. I am amazed by the amount of quality work the staff and board are achieving every day, and everyone truly cares for the Maya communities with whom they work.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am currently a volunteer with Maya Traditions. I have been here two and a half months and enjoy the work that I am doing. I started in the Tourism sector, but have had the opportunity to help in other fields such as communications, marketing and sponsorship. It has been a wonderful learning experience thus far.

2 Daphne P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As part of my ‘Master of Science program in Tourism, Leisure and Environment’ in the Netherlands, I fulfilled a communication and research internship at Maya Traditions Foundation for 5 months. I really liked my time at the organisation. Everyone, staff and volunteers, working at the organisation, are very friendly and motivated to empower and improve the quality of life for Maya women artisans and their families and to contribute to the preservation and promotion of traditional knowledge, art, and culture in Guatemala.

As a volunteer you sometimes have the chance to join field projects or site visits to the artisan cooperatives. These projects and trips are extremely useful to get to know a different side of Guatemala and how life looks like for most of its inhabitants. The social programs of Maya Traditions Foundations are amazing to strengthen the personal and professional development of the artisans and their families.

The organisation is located in a very beautiful area of Guatemala, at lake Atitlán in Panajachel, Sololá. When spending time at the organisation, you also have time to explore this amazing place of Guatemala. If you are a self motivated individual who wants to make the world a better place and spent time at an organisation where your time will be valued and you really feel useful, then Maya Traditions Foundation is THE organisation for you!

4 erinsemine

Board Member

Rating: 5

I first learned about Maya Traditions when I moved to Panajachel, Guatemala in 2012. I was immediately impressed with their work, especially their focus on the local knowledge, art, and traditions of the communities they partner with. From 2013-2016, I had the incredible opportunity to work with the organization. I learned so much and grew so much. Today, I continue to support the organization by serving on the Board of Directors. In short, Maya Traditions is a truly special organization that is working towards the empowerment and economic independence of indigenous Maya artisans and their families in a way that is sustainable and respectful. A small organization in comparison to others in Guatemala, Maya Traditions prioritizes quality over quantity--ensuring that their work is achieving the intended impact. One big family really working towards a more equal and just reality for indigenous female artisans and their families.

3 David D.2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Maya Traditions were super helpful with sharing contacts to local mayan curanderos in relation to an artistic research project. Friendly people who care deeply about their local community.

3 Simon G.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked as a volunteer with Maya Traditions for six weeks in 2017. I spent a lot of time assisting Isabel and Maribel (two Guatemalan student social workers) on their visits to the women artisan cooperatives dotted around Lake Atitlan. Their work involved imparting workshops on gender equality, self-esteem and fair trade combined with sessions and role plays promoting the age-old Mayan traditions which form part of the spiritual lifeblood of those communities. This extraordinary experience gave me an insight into the culture, traditions and economic challenges of the local people. We had great fun too - clambering into tuks-tuks, jumping into the back of pickups, squashed like sardines in chicken buses, and a snack and a laugh sitting by the roadside.

Back in the office, I had to write up profiles of students for the Sponsorship Programme, as well as give English classes to a group of young people in San Juan, and to the staff at MT. I was kept busy and really enjoyed being part of the MT team.

At a time when NGOs are coming under a certain degree of scrutiny, I sincerely believe that Maya Traditions admirably fulfills its role of empowering artisan artisan women in their struggle to improve the economic situation of their families and their communities.

I have so many fond memories of my time at MT and Panajachel : the elegance and grace of the indigenous people, the magical, volcanic landscape of the lake, my chats with members of the staff sitting in the beautiful garden, my generous host family, delicious rancho breakfasts, Shakira the dog and resident MT mascot, coffee and cakes round the table at staff meetings, the exhilerating, bumpy, soaking rides on the "lanchas" ..

...One day, I will come back and see it all again.

3

Donor

Rating: 5

I visited Maya Traditions on a couple of trips to Panahachel,Guatemala. I went on tours to surrounding towns to meet the women in some of the weaving co ops sponsored by Maya Traditions. It was a wonderful experience to meet the women in their homes and communities. We were warmly welcomed and saw demonstrations of the weaving process and the women even cooked some traditional food for us . The weavers are quite proud of their beautiful work and think of it as art and an important part of their cultural heritage. Maya Traditions has encouraged and supported their work by coordinating contracts for their woven textiles at a fair price . Maya Traditions also support the families of the artists by assisting with school costs for their children. There are other benefits Maya Traditions has acquired for the women of the co ops . One being grants for foreign travel to workshops and conferences. Maya Traditions is a great nonprofit it supports fair wage for work , not a hand out , but a hand up .

3 Surunda V.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have watched this group from the baby stages of when the founder, Jane Mintz, started organizing the different groups of artisans from various communities of the highlands of Guatemala. Her vision besides inspiring the weavings of these communities to produce articles for items like bags and textiles, was to create a cohesion and unity in each community where they could not only produce the textiles but learn better farming and how to grow their herbal medicines and to start sending their children to school. The foundation now provides scholarships to the children of the artesans. And to promote the weaving, was integral. Now, years later we see the weaving disappear from most of the culture, but it is still going strong with Maya Traditions. A great organization.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We were in Panajachel for one day and dropped by the Maya Traditions office. The staff greeted us warmly and gave us a tour of their garden and wholesale shop. Very nice!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Maya Traditions was a fantastic organization involved with great work in Panajachel. I thoroughly enjoyed my time volunteering with them, and loved learning and being involved in the life-changing work they do! I would highly recommend this non-profit.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My volunteer experience with Maya Traditions really was unique! I supported for a bit than two months the marketing activities. My main tasked contained content creation for social media channels, interviewing members of the indigenous communities, taking photos, optimizing Google Adwords and writing a marketing activity plan for 2016. Since I came with a couple years of marketing experiences, I really appreciated the freedom I got for my work, so I was able to unfold my creativity. At the same time I always received helpful feedback and support whenever I needed. The Maya Traditions team atmosphere is great and I enjoyed going to work every single day. I also really apreciated the mix of office work and visits to the rural communities, so I was able to get a very good impression of the Maya indigenous culture, that I started loving so much while I lived and worked in Panajachel. It really is an amazing work that Maya Traditions does and I am so thankful that I got the chance to support and learn from their mission. I can highly recommend volunteering with Maya Traditions!

3 Katelyn6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with Maya Traditions on site in Guatemala during Summer 2014 and am now volunteering with them remotely. In 2014, I worked on monitoring and evaluation as well as strategic planning. Now I'm working on fundraising and social media. Both experiences have been great. Maya Traditions' staff as well the communities in which they work are exceptionally welcoming and supportive. They have been genuinely appreciative of my work and have also provided really helpful feedback that has helped me to learn and grow. I've volunteered abroad before and have had mixed experiences, but my experience with MTF has been phenomenal!

2 Deana2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I found Maya Traditions Foundation through through MovingWorlds and helped them out over the course of 8 months, part of which was in person in Guatemala. They're a wonderful group of people who really genuinely care about their mission and empowering the community. What struck me as standing out from other non-profits that I have worked with in the past was their passion to protect the culture and their openness to ideas and collaboration.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I spent about 6 weeks volunteering with Maya Traditions Foundation in early 2015 as a photographer and videographer. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about my experience, and will forever have fond memories of my time working with MTF in Panajachel.

If you are a self motivated volunteer wanting to work with an organization where your time will be valued and you will feel useful, look no further than Maya Traditions Foundation. This is an excellent social enterprise that truly puts PEOPLE first -- both their staff and the artisans they partner with. I truly felt that my experience was mutually beneficial.

Each day was a rich and interesting experience. The office is beautiful and located in Panajachel, but my favorite days were spent on site visits to the artisan cooperatives. It was during these site visits that I saw a side of Guatemala that I wouldn't have seen had I just been traveling through.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I spent nearly 3 months interning with Maya Traditions Foundation in the Summer of 2014. I am very excited to have had the opportunity to work with and learn from such a great organization. I worked on Social Media and Strategy Planning, both gave me the opportunity to learn about the work that MTF does with the artisan cooperatives and women they partner with, and the impact they have in the communities. The entire summer was incredible and I loved being so welcomed by the organization, staff, and artisans. What was even better was to see the projects being implemented, and improved to ensure that the organization is truly and fully operating in a participatory manner listening to the needs of the women and families. All the artisans greeted us with big smiles and hugs and were so happy to share their skill and knowledge and culture with us. I was humbled by the talent of the artisans and the organizations staff, they valued my ideas, pushed me to try new activities, and provided great feedback on everything I worked on. The entire experience far exceeded my expectations, and the learning and experiences I had improved my personal and professional life. I think about my time in Guatemala daily and can't wait to get back and visit!

1 Nancy195

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What an incredible organization! I was fortunate enough to hook up with them through idealist.org. I spent a month volunteering to help them get their QuickBooks accounting straightened out last December. I had such a wonderful time that I went back again in May! Hopefully I can return again in the near future.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I found Maya Traditions through another nonprofit group in Austin, TX, and once I contacted them, I was welcomed to do the things which I have skills in; writing and working in the medicinal garden. Once I arrived, I was introduced to the entire staff and volunteers and given a tour, and made welcome. I worked on a booklet about the medicinal plants in the garden, working closely with the gardeners and always felt like I was being gifted with this project that I had so much excitement for. When any questions or concerns came up, I felt very comfortable speaking my truth, and sharing my observations. Working with the gardeners was such a learning experience, and I often felt I couldn't write notes in my little notebook quickly enough. There is a wealth of knowledge there. It was a pleasure to be included on the tours and out of town visits in the community, and to meet the women creating the weaving collectives. I was given the freedom and tools to do the work I committed to do, and was helped by the organization in whatever ways I needed. It was a pleasure to be a part of Maya Traditions for the weeks I was there and was especially pleased to see the commitment carried by the entire team to be true to their mission statement. They are a small team of dedicated workers and it was a great environment to learn and grow in as a volunteer. I totally loved working in the garden, doing the hot, sweaty work, and then back to the office to research and write. I also loved the homey atmosphere created at the office and the fabulous dogs I spent time with. I worked closely with another volunteer and together, we created and met our own deadline for completing the book. All in all, it was an enrichning experience I am so grateful to have had.

Lara8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Maya Traditions Foundation was a wonderful company to work for during first experience volunteering abroad. I volunteered as a designer with Maya Traditions for six weeks. In that time I created an advertising e-book and designed products for their collection. I had hands on experience with fair trade production and the additional programs of Maya Traditions. As an extremely basic Spanish speaker I felt comfortable in the office and the community of Panajachel.

The Maya Traditions Office is located in Panajachel on the breathtaking Lake Atitlan. Pana was an excellent community to work in during my first time in Central America because of its interaction of local culture, tourism, and NGO work. It is a colorful bustling town with easy access to many adventures around the Lake and Guatemala. Although I traveled alone to Panajachel, I quickly met other volunteers and friends of people in the office. The office is English friendly but also promotes Spanish and the Mayan Languages. The staff of Maya Traditions are hardworking and passionate which contributes to a supportive work environment. Maya Traditions encouraged me to experience Panajachel and Guatemala. They helped connect me with a language tutor and a host family. I stayed with a host family within walking distance of the office.

Maya Traditions helped set clear project goals for my volunteer experience. We worked effectively to find the connection between my interests as a textile design student and their needs as an NGO. I created an advertising e-book for Maya Traditions and worked on product design. As part of the e-book I helped with a photo shoot of products. I participated in visits to the jewelry and shoe suppliers. I also learned the basics of back-strap weaving, a traditional weaving process promoted by Maya Traditions products. I toured Maya Traditions medicinal plant garden and attended a literacy class for the weavers of Maya Traditions. I also spent a weekend working with the youth education program of Maya Traditions in San Juan La Laguna. Maya Traditions Foundation has many opportunities for volunteers from a variety of career backgrounds. Maya Traditions Foundation is a remarkable company that promotes culture and sustainable business practices. I was impressed by the integrity Maya Traditions and their genuine passion for their work.

Pete D.

Donor

Rating: 5

The Maya Educational Foundation is a tremendous organization. They set up a memorial fund for my late father and have been helping us effectively transmit funds to Guatemala for the purposes of broadening educational opportunities in local Mayan communities. Being in the hillcountry of Guatemala, these communities are physically hard to access, yet Maya Educational Foundation has done a tremendous job of lining up partners within the town and routinely checking in on progress and needs. They ensure funds are being used effectively while also allowing control to be localized in community leaders, who know more about what is needed in town then outsiders. When we wanted to meet with students who we were sponsoring, MEF guided us through our visit to Huehuetenango and we were so impressed by their work there. I highly recommend supporting the great work of the Maya Educational Foundation!

Angeles S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I served as an intern with FTM January 2013. Even in a short amount of time, each day was a great learning experience and an opportunity to contribute to the foundation. The team and staff did an amazing job of working with me to ensure I got the most out of my experience.

I was impressed by these things:

The team is primarily indigenous, an essential aspect to cultural fluency in more ways than one. Because of a well organized team, budget and goals, FTM does well to establish long-term sustainability in the communities of Lake Atitlan. FTM capitalizes on the grassroots approach and encourages a perspective of international solidarity. Also, they are great. Every person on that team is relational, fun, dedicated and inspiring.

I was immediately put to work in traveling with the Education Coordinator, Mary Morales, a hardworking and very respected representative of FTM. We traveled in following up on students in the scholarship program and organizing parents to prioritize the education of their child as well. I was also able to accompany Donna DeGenarro, a documentary maker and teacher who worked to empower students living in the most marginalized of communities to film their own documentary. Doing community observations and field visits with them allowed me to experience firsthand the community my work would help influence.

I was extremely privileged to meet and work at the table with indigenous social activists, traditional cosmovision healers, and woman artesans who invited me into their home. I learned where human rights and cultural heritage met community health ( the project in which I was most involved).
Because of the upclose experience, I valued my written and technical work all the more so - as I now had relationships with the people it would affect.

My internship with FTM was one of the most valuable experiences of my college career. My ideas about privilege, marginalization were stretched and it shaped my worldview. I was humbled by the work of the organization and inspired me in a way that no classroom experience could.

I would highly encourage any student, graduate or individual seeking a life-changing opportunity to serve with FTM. It enlightened my personal career path and life goals.
Their work is true sustainable community development and I am honored to say I participated.
And I hope to one day soon return!

Please feel free to email me at
asolis14@my.whitworth.edu
if you have any additional questions or would like to talk more in detail about applying to serve.

1 Ditte T.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was so lucky as to vlounteer with Maya Traditions in the spring of 2013. I have worked with several NGO previously, but I find the work of Maya Traditions amazing. There are many ways to help poor and marginalized people get a better life, but to me, the best way is to make the people capable of providing for them selves. And Maya Traditions is doing this, by helping the local women om Guatamala sell the products they produce for a fair price. And supporting the education of their children. And by supporting local, traditional mayan medicin.

And besides this, the work I did as an volunteer was interesting, divers, inspiring and giving. Working in the medicinal herbal garden, was a beautifull experience, that also taught me about the medicinal properties of herbs. And from working with fairtrade product, I learned a lot about local production and culture.

As it is a rather small organization with only 6 employees, I had a lot of influence on what I wanted to do, and it was possible to initiate events, workshops and the like, which for me is an important part of a volunteer experience.

SO - to me, the combination of having a visible impact on peoples lives combined with the fact, that it is wonderfull place to work/volunteer makes Maya Traditions a truly great non-profit organization.

Fisherman

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

MEF is extremely important to the education and support of the indiginous populations of Guatemala, Chiapas Mexico and Beliz. I am married to the director who works tirelessly for the cause and I know of no other non-profit organization with lower operational costs. When you donate to MEF you can be sure that your money will reach it's intended target. Funding is especially critical because of the poor economy. the staff at MEF has been forced to downsize leaving a critically small crew to get the work done.