During our last week in Guatemala, we took a boat out to San Juan La Laguna. A quiet town that had been built completely up from the bottom. When we first arrived, I could immediately feel the collaboration of the people who lived there. Everywhere you turned you could see shops with handmade hammocks and clothing hanging from each wall. Art stores with beautiful paintings and murals; everything was captivating.
Lee, our tour guide had us stop in one shop in particular. There he introduced us to a woman; her name was Michaela. She told us about her work and a female empowerment group that she started, where any women from the town could come and discuss issues that generally wouldn’t be talked about aloud. Michaela explained the success of the group and how connected the women felt to her. Though our encounter was only a minute, it’s the part of the trip that stuck with me the most. In the future, I want my work to be in fighting for Women’s rights. Meeting Michaela showed me that female empowerment is not only a local problem but a global issue.
While we there, we also got the chance to visit cooperatives, which is an “organization that is owned and run jointly by its members, who share the profits or benefits.” One was a weaving cooperative named, Casa Flor Ixcaco. Their vision is “fostering education and supporting children in San Juan La Laguna through scholarships and financial aid. By selling and commercializing their weaving products, to ensure a better future for their children.” We learned about the process of weaving and the many hours these women put into their work. They addressed how important the store was for the community and how crucial the women felt about keeping traditions alive.
At the end of the day, on the boat trip back, I thought about how valuable this day was. There are strong, powerful women fighting everywhere, and since that day, all I’ve wanted to do was educate myself more on issues that don’t surround me. I hope in the future to be able to take trips like these. For now, I’m eager to learn as much as I can from where I am.