From Michoacán to Mexicali and a hopeful return to Chiapas
Do you remember Vero, the talented young weaver? Last summer, we met her and some of her friends in Chiapas, Mexico and offered her a grant to pay off the loan on her loom so she could start her own weaving business. We've stayed in touch with her and thought it was time for an update!
Training in Michoacán
Late last year, Vero was one of five artisans from the state of Chiapas selected for a training program on a different kind of loom—telar de chicote, in Michoacán. To use this loom, a weaver must know specialized techniques and work with finer fabrics than what is made on a pedal loom. She spent five months working alongside other artisans who taught her about quality control, attention to details, and much more. Even though this type of loom enables artisans to work more quickly than the traditional pedal loom, these women work at a slower pace to ensure the high quality of their finished product as they take great pride in their craft. Vero says, "It was a very beautiful experience to be with experienced weavers who taught me a lot. They didn't know much about the pedal loom, so we exchanged ideas."
In Her Own Words
"It was a learning experience being in another state, working with women from other cultures and ethnic groups. We grew to be friends as I learned from them. I was provided with free lodging and received a small stipend for food and living expenses. One morning, I got up early to buy breakfast and then make the 15-minute walk to the workshop. I bought breakfast and went to work. It was a sort of scary walk, as there were many trees, it was a very cloudy day, and a bit cool and damp. I had my notebook and phone with me, and wasn't paying attention, and missed a step and went rolling down a hill. I got to work a bit afraid of what others would say, as I was late and a little beaten up. I didn't want to tell them what had happened, but they asked me. It happened that I had a tree branch in my hair! The ladies spent the whole day teasing me about this, and I felt accepted. It was hard being in a different place, alone, far from home. Five of us started, three returned home, and only two of us stayed. I liked the work, and I decided to stay. God provided."
The Consequences of COVID
As everywhere and for everyone else, COVID-19 got in the way of her plans. There was no work in Chiapas and there was no market for any fabric produced. She made the very difficult decision to return to Mexicali in the north of Mexico to work once again in the fields, picking onions. She did this so she could continue to pay rent on her workshop and house and to send money home to help her family.
Vero's hope is to return to Chiapas and have enough saved up for the supplies and materials she will need to produce. And, as Vero says, to never have to return to the fields of northern Mexico! She can dedicate her time to the work she loves—to her weaving.
We will keep you posted on Vero's progress. Our next grant to her will provide the tools for her loom she needs to produce greater variety of fabric and expand her offerings. Please keep Vero in your prayers and if you would like to donate to Vero's project you can do that here.