Maya Traditions’ Youth Education Program started humbly, with an honest conversation between the organization’s founder, Jane Mintz, and an artisan from Chuacruz, a rural village in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. The artisan in question made clear to Jane the grinding, generational poverty and high costs of even public education in Guatemala that made sending their children to school difficult, even impossible. Through this personal encounter, Jane recognized the need to support Maya Traditions’ collaborating artisans beyond just a fair payment for their weavings and the first ever scholarship was offered in 1997 to Gilberto, the son of the woman from Chuacruz.
In the years that followed, our Youth Education Program has continued to grow; now offering select students scholarships for University-level education. Every artisan that Maya Traditions works with is guaranteed financial support, leadership workshops, and other activities for their children to ensure that they will have the tools to be leaders in their communities.
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About a year before cancer took her from us, I was on the phone with Jane and her voice sounded teary. She told me not to be concerned as they were tears of joy. While sorting her collection of Guatemala photographs, she'd just come across a picture of a boy from Chuacruz who was the first recipient of a Maya Traditions' scholarship. Jane recounted how he was twelve at the time and his artisan mother wanted him to quit school so he could go to work and help support his family. Jane convinced her otherwise and today that young man is completing his medical degree.
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World Fair Trade Organization