The Santa Elena Community Development Project began in May, 2008. The initial idea was to promote self employment in a region where traditional job sites are almost non-existent.
At first the participants were unsure and had little comprehension of how they could have their own business. Their experience had been to work for someone else who would explain exactly what they were supposed to do, would pay them and then that was it… Their work was never secure; they depended 100% on the fortunes of others or upon the government.
But with energy and enthusiasm they began to look at different models. Eventually a two-pronged approach was decided upon. One group created a day excursion through their community that they call, “Walk the Mayan Way.” Visitors to Yucatan will love this delightful tour of a contemporary Mayan village. For further information, you can contact me and I’ll pass a message along.
The other group used their creative skills and developed a line of products to sell. They wanted items that would be attractive to both local residents and tourists. After several attempts, the colorful vinyl shopping bags were clearly the winners.
Many of these have been purchased and later they’ve been spotted on a street in New York as well as in the Santiago market and many places between…
The sale of these bags has made a tremendous difference to the lives of the project members. One of them said recently. “Thanks to the income from the sales, our children have gone to school with all they need – books, uniforms and so on. We are so happy to have this work!”
What started out as a project to develop income sources turned into one that has developed self esteem and pride.
Please support the Santa Elena Sustainable Development Project. The bags will be for sale at the AANY artisan fair to be held this weekend from 10 am – 8 pm. at the Camara de Comercio on Avenida Itzaes and 31st Street.
All orders large or small will be gratefully filled.
TTT’s Back Courtyard… the setting for the Talent Night
As many of you know, in 1990 my husband Jorge and I founded a college here in Merida.
Tecnología Turística Total (TTT) offers two bachelor degrees to the local young people: Tourism Administration and Modern Languages. We also have an international students’ program and life long learning options. TTT is a busy place – morning, noon and night!
About half of the students in our two programs are from Merida and the other half come from towns in Yucatan as well as from several other states in the country. Our students are an interesting mix indeed! And they love nothing better than to have a good time.
Several times a year, they organize events and last night they staged the annual “Talent Night”. Singing… dancing… poetry… skits… The variety was incredible.
Thanks must also go to Prof. Luis Martinez who helps the students coordinate all the logistics…
I have such admiration for the way the young people in Mexico are so willing to get up in front of a crowd and entertain. They are so unselfconscious and enjoy making others happy.
I am attaching lots of pictures today so you can see what a great time we had!
I wish I knew how to insert the shots properly, but here they are… such as they are!
For nearly three years the women of the Santa Elena Sustainable Development Project have been working towards their goal of self-determination. These twelve women are not educated and in fact, until last year, they’d never been to Merida, the state capital just 100 kilometers away from their town. They had never developed a product, followed a design, nor heard of the concept of quality control. The ladies had never coordinated fabrics and colors, run an industrial sewing machine… they’d never earned any money.
They have now accomplished all this and today they took still another step. From now on, the group will handle their finances and do their own buying. They have a simple accounting and inventory model they’ll follow and although somewhat nervous about having the complete responsibility for their project, they are excited and proud of themselves.
The ladies developed several projects over the past three years and each has taught them a lesson. They hope to have other offerings soon. Meanwhile their colorful market bags are a big hit with Merida shoppers. They will be on sale at the AANY Handcrafts sale to be held this weekend at the Chamber of Commerce. Rosa said, “When we took our bags to the sale at Christmastime, I was very nervous of what the other vendors would think. But they were all welcoming and I look forward to seeing them again.”
For those readers not familiar with the AANY show… here’s your chance to attend a great event. Joan Farrel, a member of Merida’s international community and the volunteers from her group have interviewed a large number of local artists and gathered them together to sell their wares. This weekend will mark the fifth event and will feature more than 50 artists; the Santa Elena ladies among them with 66 bags for sale. The bags make great gifts for friends’ birthdays. The hours are from 9am – 7 pm. The Chamber of Commerce building is located on the corner of Avenida Izaes and Calle31.