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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

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

35 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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 .