San Juan La Laguna



In the community of San Juan La Laguna, Sololá, women worked separately, each on their own and family income was very scarce, a group of Tz'utujile women decided to unite with the idea of looking for alternatives to generate employment . But even more important in their decision to lean on, was their shared interest in revaluing and preserving these ancient dyeing and weaving techniques, which represent a rich cultural heritage passed down over hundreds of generations. These techniques demonstrate the vast knowledge of the ancestors in the management of the resources accessible to the Juanera community, knowledge that resurfaces strongly in this project that the Lema 'weavers have decided to carry on their shoulders.

In her search to develop her community, Mrs. Rosalinda Tay meets a student from Mexico who was doing her university thesis with whom she shared knowledge. Six months later this student named Katia Winkler found an opportunity for Doña Rosalinda, to be able to form an association and look for women from the town who will be interested in working in a group, during the year 2,000 they worked in search of an institution that would legalize them as an association, by then they know the Solar foundation, an institution that helps the development of communities, thanks to its cooperation, Lemá obtained its legal status on September 27, 2001 with the support of the solar foundation, starting with 15 women, one of them 75 years old, 4 women who spoke a little Spanish , and among them the board of directors was formed with Rosalinda Tay Mendoza as president, Francisca Mendoza vice president, Elvia Cholotio treasurer, Ma ria Virginia Cholotio secretary, Lucia Vásquez vocal first.

Taking as axis of work the weaving on the backstrap loom, an ancient art of dyeing in natural dyes that was molded and perfected. That is why each garment made by these weavers tells a great story. In addition, it reflects the importance of preserving and disseminating the knowledge of these groups as a mechanism to revalue the work of artisan women, which has become a viable alternative in generating income. Through this work, Juaneras women are not only capable of expressing their creativity, but they can also choose to offer a better quality of life for their families.

In 2002 no one knew about the association and the women had products, but they had no buyers, seeing the income needs of the associates, they looked for a place to locate a store where tourists could buy the products, which later established in the house of Doña Rosalinda because the association did not have funds to rent a place.

Based on the work carried out in the community of San Juan, Rosalinda Tay, was interviewed by Bancafé bank executives in the year 2,003 who later awarded her the 2003 Héroes Anónimos award, delivered in March 2,004, an award that she raised Lemá's name.

In the same year, Lema is invited to compete for the productivity award held by Unión FENOSA at the National Palace of Culture, where, thanks to their hard work, the associates receive the $ 10,000 prize, thus taking first place in the event.

At the end of the year 2,004 and at the beginning of 2,005, several trainings on designs were held with the designer Harald from Norway, thus achieving an alliance with the Quij de los Forests institution where products were placed in prestigious stores such as Nim Pot in Antigua Guatemala , in the Guatemala Nuestra event at the Cemaco store, Expomueble Kalea, sales that raised the association's fund to be able to pay the artisans the salary they had expected for years.

For the month of October 2,005, San Juan la Laguna suffered a catastrophe caused by the stan storm, which weakened the lands and at the same time destroyed the nursery that the association had, a problem that caused a decrease in production since it was the main source of the dyeing process.

The efforts have transcended step by step during these five years of work, currently they are in training on market studies and new designs at the same time, perfecting the fiber staining mechanism through experiments and formulation of recipes that ensure control of more exact quality, but there are many needs that have not yet been covered since the association grows every day in numbers of associates who want a benefit for their children for whom they work.


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