Ana Carolina Medina
Advisor in the Process of Craft Products
My Volunteer Experience
My volunteer experience was amazing. I had the opportunity to work in partnership with a local Fair Trade organization that has 800 members, of whom 95% are women.
Mayan women are artisans, real fighters, many are excellent community leaders, proud to be Mayan, despite all they have suffered including discrimination. These women entrepreneurs are indeed mostly widows who have lost their husbands in the armed conflict that happened in Guatemala in the 80's.
Looking for opportunities, these women decided to organize themselves and formed the Association of Artisans Aj Quen, which produce Fair Trade products. The association has currently 26 member groups of women coming from different regions of Guatemala. They receive a variety of trainings to help them personally and professionally. For instance, workshops topics include: health, rights, gender equality, political empowerment, professional design, handcrafts, basic accounting, leadership and motivation, self esteem and many more.
As a volunteer, I worked with the Guatemalan Fair Trade Commission, assigned to Aj Quen – one of its most prominent members. During my mandate, I:
- Gave some training on design and the importance of trends in national and international markets
- Helped the Mayan women develop new products, as well as decorative designs for stands in national and international fairs
- Participated in the planning, organization and implementation of the 1st National Fair Trade Fair in Guatemala
- Helped Aj Quen design a new collection
- Supported with translation from English to Spanish when dealing with international clients during events
- Offered training and capacity building workshops to group leaders regarding some techniques, highlighting the importance of knowledge transfer
- Helped the Association develop new market opportunities
- Insisted on the importance of gender equality, for the women to know their rights and to fight to defend their position with the Association
Getting the opportunity to be part of the Association was unique and I will always be grateful for having had the opportunity to share their culture, values and their great desire to support their communities.