Lorraine, Carol, and Catherine worked with about 15 women in La Montanita to determine if the women could use their craft and sewing skills to make items for sale. The women are very adept with hand crafts and thus very artistic and proficient with hand sewing. The first day was spent trying to understand their capabilities, what materials were available, and their interests in such a project.
No one in the village knew how to knit and only one woman knew how to crochet a few stitches. Catherine spent the next day with 6-8 teenage girls to teach them how to crochet using needles and yarn that she had taken. One of the girls learned fast and completed a baby cap by the end of the second day. Now, this group is capable of crocheting baby caps and blankets. We will be sending them new and different crochet patterns in Spanish for the group to make additional items to be sold in Honduras.
The women already design and make tortilla cloths. Each person draws a pattern of their own design on the cloth before they start the embroidering. They were looking for ways to use these skills to make other hand-crafted items. They were very excited to show us these cloths and several of them went back home to get some. On the second day as the conversation progressed to the idea that they could sell these items, they told Lorraine that they only made them as a hobby and for personal use. They seemed to have little interest in selling these cloths at first. Then, Lorraine suggested that they could organize a group to make the tortilla covers to sell to earn money to buy school items for their children, or other things that would benefit all of the children in the community. When the women realized that the money could be used to improve the lives of their children, the interest in the proposed project came alive. I guess mothers are the same world wide!! Then, a leader emerged from the group and she quickly began organizing them and getting their individual commitments.
Before the meeting was over, Lorraine agreed to ask the next mission team to bring 20 of these tortilla covers back to Aiken to determine if they will sell. Also, one of our group members ordered 15 of them for gifts. The women were promised that they would be paid $4 for each tortilla cloth picked up by the next group. The La Montanita women will then have $140 to buy more materials to make additional cloths. Also, if the cloths sell for more that $4, all of the extra money will be sent back to this group. On the bus ride back to the airport, several of our team members brainstormed ideas on other uses of the tortilla cloths and how to start marketing and selling them. Bruce even had two good ideas here!!
While all of the crocheting and tortilla cloth activities were happening with Catherine and Lorraine, Carol intended to teach a group how to make paper flowers to decorate their church. This had been requested the previous day. Before she could really get started on the flower making, she was overwhelmed by a large group of village children who wanted to color and draw. So, that’s how Carol spent her day. None of these items could be sold, but the children left happy.
During all of these activities, children comfortably moved in and out of whatever was going on. It seems that the children just naturally integrate themselves into anything that is happening. Jim and Bruce had mentioned that several young boys had helped the adults assemble the school desks and benches the previous day. This just seems to be the way that things are in Honduras.
Lorraine, Carol, & Catherine