Ruth and Naomi

Ruth and Naomi

The Ruth and Naomi Project emerged out of the terror and desperation of the Guatemalan civil war when, under the encouragement of a local Methodist pastor and his wife, a group of widows banded together to find ways of supporting themselves and their children through sales of the community's traditional woven crafts. Of the initial group of 18 women, all had lost their husbands, fathers, or both to the government's "scorched earth" policy of the 1980s. In 1986, the Methodist project Ruth and Naomi was officially founded in Chontola. The name was chosen because it spoke of two widows from the Bible who were without resources but worked and survived. Today, Ruth and Naomi is comprised of six workshops, representing more than 60 artisans. Widowed artisans weave bright lengths of cloth on backstrap looms. Young men, trained as tailors, sew this cloth into finished products such as vests, bags, wallets and briefcases. These artisans are determined to ensure the survival of their families, their villages, and their culture, which they represent with the brightly woven floral designs in their textiles.