During Guatemala’s civil war, the village of Chontola lost more than 40 husbands, fathers and brothers to the military’s “scorched earth” campaign in 1982. Many women became widowed and had few ways to support their families. These women were overwhelmed with farming, childcare duties and extreme poverty.
With nowhere else to turn, two Mayan Quiché women approached Diego Chicoj Ramos, a Methodist church pastor, and asked him and his wife, Juana, for help. Though their church had been burned to the ground and they had little to offer, they managed to secure seven pounds of thread. A small group of women took this thread and started to weave small items to sell in nearby markets. Soon, they were bringing income back to the community.
In 1986, with new buyers in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, the group decided on the name, Ruth and Naomi, in reference to the Bible story of two widows who were without resources, but worked hard and survived.
Today, Ruth and Naomi is comprised of six workshops, representing more than 60 makers. These makers weave bright pieces of cloth on looms in workshops and at home, creating products such as purses and bags. They use traditional Mayan huipiles, which are handwoven, embroidered blouses from the Chontola area, to create their beautiful, handcrafted designs.
Ruth and Naomi also provide youth with scholarships, making it possible for teens to complete high school and go on to university.
Visit our website to check out these stunning, handwoven designs from resilient makers in Guatemala.