Ambassador Travelogue: Empowering Women in Guatemala
Our Ambassador Travelogue series continues as Ambassador contributor Katie Beard reflects on her recent trip to Guatemala. Noonday Ambassadors have the opportunity to earn trips around the world to visit our Artisan Partners in person. In Guatemala, Katie and her group met three talented women who are creating opportunity in their communities through the beauty of work.
Ever since I was little, I’ve had an army of strong, joyful, empowered women to admire and aspire to be. My mom worked hard, loved well, and gardened like a pro. My aunt welcomed every person with open arms and my teachers listened and pushed me to be the best version of myself. During my week in Guatemala, I saw these same tenants of hard work, hospitality, and empowerment shine from the eyes of Ana, Anjelica, and Rosario, three female Artisan Entrepreneurs.
Ana leads a business of 25 people during the week and travels by bus three hours each way to attend class on the weekend. She shares her story with a smile lit from within, speaking of her hope to continue her education, learn more efficient ways to run her business, and hire more people whose hands long to do good work. She leads with grace and displays a confidence that I did not see in many of the local market vendors. Ana and her peers beamed as our Ambassador group clapped for a brand new piece they are creating for Noonday’s Fall Collection. In her broad smile, I got a glimpse into Ana’s quiet confidence—and saw firsthand the important role that Noonday’s orders have played in it.
Another talented entrepreneur, Anjelica, welcomed us into her home with a hug and a kiss, sharing how the 16 women she leads support their husbands and children with their work. As she reflected on the relationship we Ambassadors have with these Artisans, Anjelica explained that it is rare for women to support women, tearfully adding that she is humbled and grateful to partner with us.
In response, Ambassadors shared hopes, lessons, and fears, emphasizing how proud we feel when we wear the accessories Anjelica’s team creates and share the inspiring stories behind them. When one of the Ambassadors gave Anjelica a bracelet with the words “together we accomplish much” engraved in Spanish, Anjelica touched it proudly and confidently asserted, “This will make me work harder, faster.”
The third entrepreneur we met, Rosario, welcomed us by sharing her heart for mentorship. As I looked around at the young women to whom she was referring, I felt an incredible pride swell within me for the work Rosario is doing here. She shared that the women in her neighborhood rarely make the same wages as men, and often earn only a fourth of what men make to do the same job. But the Artisans in Rosario’s workshop work fair hours and have a consistent paycheck. She dreamed aloud for the young women she leads to one day no longer need her mentorship as they move on, independently working in their chosen fields of study.
The winding roads, afternoon rain showers, and gorgeous colors of the country were no match for the overwhelming feeling of home when laughter broke out amongst new and old friends in the workshops we visited. In every workshop there was a deep sense of commitment and a curiosity toward the visitor, but laughter was the true connector. With only one translator, the trust was realized through eye contact, hand motions, and an understood “me too.”
It’s difficult to explain an unspoken connection, but there are little moments that tell this story of connection so beautifully to me. Imagine looking down to realize your fingers, like your new friend Micaela’s, had become blue from untying knots in materials that will soon be used to create a scarf you and your friends will wear.
Imagine looking up into Micaela’s eyes, seeing the strength of each woman who has ever inspired you, each moment of pride and joy you have ever experienced glimmering back at you and helping you realize: we are all women hoping to be known, to share something worthy, and to create something good.
As I returned home to Tennessee, back to my family, job, and the rush of life itself, I wondered how I would convey the deep sense of connection I felt and will feel each time I put on the hand-woven scarves or latch the perfectly beaded bracelets from our partners in Guatemala. I find myself pausing to pray that each women we encountered remembers the strength she has inside herself – and the strength we both have through our partnership with one another. And I pray that we may all use our strength – as Ana, Anjelica and Rosario have – to celebrate each other and spur each other on.
Want to travel with us next year? Launch your Ambassador business and you could earn a trip to visit our Artisan Partners across the globe!