Creating Opportunity in Ecuador: Maria Paz’s Story
Maria Paz is an Artisan who lives in Otavalo, Ecuador. She creates colorful jewelry with tagua, pambil, coconut and other natural materials. One of the more senior Artisans in the workshop, Maria loves talking and laughing with the other women in the workshop as she carefully strings seeds into beautiful necklaces and bracelets.
Maria with one of her granddaughters
Maria began working as an Artisan for one of Noonday’s artisan partners in 2013. She says that finding this job has been a lifesaver for her family. Maria and her husband have five children – three daughters and two sons – and her 28-year-old daughter has special needs. Caring for a child with special needs can be challenging in any environment, but in a country like Ecuador where there are few resources for individuals with special needs, it can be a grueling struggle.
For years Maria worked as a house cleaner. She would start her mornings early, helping her daughter get ready for the day before boarding the bus for a long ride into the city. She worked long hours almost every day of the week, and felt that she never had the time she needed to care for her family. Her pay as a house cleaner was low, but because her husband struggled to find regular work, it was money the family desperately needed.
One day Maria heard about an opportunity to become an Artisan with a fair trade business near her home in Otavalo. The business had a large order of jewelry to make and needed to bring in more hands. Maria went to the workshop where she interviewed for the position and was thrilled when she was told she got the job.
Maria had never worked as a jewelry-maker before, but with training and practice, she learned quickly. She is now a permanent part of the team and has flexible work hours that enable her to care for her daughter. Maria sees this as a precious gift. With her warm smile and nurturing personality, she has become a mother figure for the younger women in the workshop too.
“My job as an Artisan is like a relaxing pastime for me because of the atmosphere and women at the workshop,” Maria shared. “I enjoy coming in to work because it gives me a chance to spend time with the other ladies here. We enjoy chatting and catching up as we create jewelry together. Doing this work and getting to spend time with other women has lifted me up. It makes me forget my problems and always entertains me!”
Like Maria, so many women around the world are waiting to be offered just a little bit of opportunity to flourish. They are talented, strong, and dedicated to using their gifts to lift their families out of poverty. When you purchase Noonday products, host a Trunk Show, or become an Ambassador, you create that opportunity for one of the 30 artisan businesses we partner with, empowering them to create jobs for people like Maria.
Shop the Tamia Bib Necklace, handmade by Maria and her friends
Meet Jenna Tanner
Jenna is Noonday’s Content Curator and loves to write about fair trade, social justice and Artisans around the world. She also enjoys marathoning her favorite TV shows with her husband, playing intense games of Ticket to Ride, and searching for the best tacos in Austin (let her know if you find them!).