We’re celebrating the return of Kairos Pastoral Ministries – and through them, beautiful pine needle baskets and other products woven made by Mayan women – to this year’s Eau Claire Global Market!
When her son and his wife adopted two infants from the Guatemala Highlands in 2003, Minnesota resident Carrie Kemp thought the visit would help her family learn about the infants’ heritage and understand their roots. Over the last 13 years, Kemp and her husband have returned to visit the Maya 12 times, purchasing textile products and pine needle baskets made by Mayan women and sold through Mayan Hands to benefit non-profit organizations that help Mayan women and their families improve their lives.
“Not only are these products beautiful, but the artisans’ lives are directly affected by the purchases,” said Kemp. “Over the last 12 years, we have seen families, even communities, benefit from the sale of these unique items – healthcare, education, even potable water. It’s been an honor to work with these women (and some men) who want desperately to improve living conditions for their families and their communities.”
Kairos Ministries’ products are all either hand- or foot-woven, and include table coverings, woolen ponchos, and their popular pine needle baskets. Each item embodies the culture and history that, as Kemp and her husband have seen first-hand, Mayan women pride themselves on transmitting through woven design, as they’ve done for over five centuries. The fair-trade products offered by Kairos Ministries and Mayan Hands enables these women to bring their families out of extreme poverty while keeping their culture alive.
“The Maya have little opportunities to market their creations in their own communities or in the few cities throughout Guatemala,” said Kemp. “Their lives are in remote, almost inaccessible villages… no electricity means no radio, no TV, etc. Limited access to education means few of them learn to read. Thanks to Mayan Hands, however, we are seeing kids graduate from high school and college!”