Rosa’s roses are in full bloom and so is Rosa.
I met Rosa and her friends three years ago. She had never worked outside the home or for pay. Her husband Abel encouraged her and her group in their quest to find employment. The women wanted to contribute to their family economy but no jobs were available near home. How could they make money without leaving the village?
The Santa Elena Sustainable Economic Development Project was born to meet that need. Rosa and her band of hard working women had talent and energy, but they had much to learn about operating a business. They received some assistance from various sources: the International Women’s Club of Merida (IWC) donated an industrial sewing machine, and many other generous people contributed with funds and other items they needed.
Theresa Diaz and Beth Knepp helped Rosa and her friends learn about design, choosing fabric, combining colors and textures. The group discovered the importance of maintaining consistent quality. They learned that half of the money they made could not be touched; it had to be saved in order to have cash on hand for new fabrics and other supplies they would need to make future inventory.
Now the ladies no longer depend on Beth and Theresa to hold their hands through the purchasing, making and selling of their products. Rosa and her group keep their own books. Some of their children are getting involved. They have built a business and its growing.
You can purchase the handcrafts made in Santa Elena at the CULTUR Tienda de Artesanias on Calle 63 between 64 and 66. And you will also see them at various craft fairs throughout Merida at different times during the year. And, of course they’ll be at the ANNY show: Saturday 3rd and 4th of December.
I feel such admiration for Rosa and the other women in the project. When they began, some of them had never been to Merida before. They stepped out of the box, and learned a completely new skill set.
It is hoped that other initiatives like the Santa Elena Sustainable Economic Project will start up in other villages in Yucatan, and that the artisan community will grow in scope and productivity. If you have an idea or wish to help out, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Leave a comment on this post, and I’ll get back to you
Photos: All the pictures were taken by “Yours truly” in Santa Elena