Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Support the Arts AND the Artists

Rebozo weaver from Turícuaro
About 10 years ago Doug and I were in the final month of our year long stay in Michoacán. At that time we were putting the final touches on our documentary for La Casa de las Artesanias, and making sure that we had purchased all of the treasures we absolutely couldn't live without. We didn't know then that we were starting a business, that our love for Michoacán's artesania-- some might call it obsession-- would lead us to embark on something that a few months later would become what we now know as Mexico By Hand. We didn't know then that we would return every year to buy more handmade crafts-- not for ourselves-- but to sell to appreciative customers in the United States. 
And we never imagined that ten years later, in the year 2014, there would still be  Mexico By Hand.We have learned and experienced so much these past years, and our feelings and attachment for the people and the culture of Michoacán have grown even stronger. Many artisans eagerly look forward to our visits and depend on our yearly purchases in order to sustain their families. We of course enjoy  the relationships we have developed, and are always excited to meet new artisans and expand the circle. Every year we hope to discover or undertake something new that will either delight our customers or ourselves. 
Young embroiderer, near Erongaricuaro
Which brings me to a new project I'd like to tell you about. When Doug and I were having lunch last summer with some new friends in Erongaricuaro, a village about a half hour away from Patzcuaro, I heard about some women who run a health clinic for the indigenous women in the area. It intrigued me, but I never had a chance to visit or learn much more. And then, a few months ago, I received a group email from the clinic's director, asking for financial support for this very clinic. As I read the letter, tears began streaming down my cheeks. My strong reaction surprised me, but it didn't take long for me to realize that the intensity of my feelings was a sign that I needed to pay attention to this letter, to this organization called Mujeres Aliadas. I immediately wrote back and offered to donate a portion of Mexico By Hand's sales to their project. 
Artisan family in Cuanajo
 Mujeres Aliadas advances the lives of poor women and adolescent girls in the Lake Pátzcuaro area of Michoacán by providing women-centered sexual and reproductive health and educational services. Women in the area have unacceptably high rates of maternal, infant, and cervical cancer mortality due to poor access to affordable, dignified and quality health care. Common ailments often go untreated for years or even a lifetime. For many, particularly the indigenous women, the cost of travel to a clinic or even a small fee for care is simply unaffordable.  Mujeres Aliadas helps to empower women and adolescent girls to advocate for their health care rights.
The majority of the artisans from whom Mexico By Hand buys are indigenous Purepecha women. All but one has children, and most of the men have daughters. The women who create the beautiful art we buy and sell need the services provided by Mujeres Aliadas. They need to be educated so that they can take charge of their own health care and they need to be treated with respect and dignity. It makes so much sense for Mexico By Hand to support this project, and with your help, we can send some much needed dollars their way by the end of the year. All you need to do is purchase from and tell your friends and families to do the same.
Mil gracias!
-- Peggy
To find out more about Mujeres Aliadas, go to their website: