The Cotzal Weaving Cooperative is a collective of widowed
survivors of the Guatemalan Civil War. For years, these women have worked towards creating
a sustainable future. Their next goal is to buy a piece of land where they can
grow their own food in order to overcome malnutrition and teach their children
about sustainable agriculture, traditional medicinal plants and floriculture.
An opportunity to purchase a small piece of land next to their
recently completed community center just came up. The women have already
started to fundraise within their community, but are also looking for support
and solidarity in reaching their goals. The land costs nearly $7,000, much more
than is possible to raise in a country where the majority of the population
lives in abject poverty. Private donors have already committed $3,000 to this
cause, but more is needed to empower these indigenous women to achieve their
About the Cooperative
San Juan Cotzal is a medium sized town, high in the mountains of the Ixil triangle, in the department of Quiche. The people of Cotzal are indigenous Ixil and speak the Ixil language. This region suffered tremendously during the 36 year civil war in Guatemala. 40-50% of Cotzal's residents died from violence, torture and disease by the time the peace accords were signed in 1996 and tragically, the area is recognized as one of the hardest hit by the genocide.
The Weaving Cooperative was formed in 1986 when widows from the war organized their weaving talents into a powerful show of resilience and solidarity. There are 45 women involved and they use the traditional backstrap loom method to weave their products, which often utilize natural plant dyes. The Cooperative is a sign of hope for the survivors of the war and is a pillar of strength, resilience and empowerment for the community, and the generations to come.
'Of course, the cooperative has many goals for the future! The women dream of strengthening their activities and developing new ones, like a tree growing towards the sky. The women, as always, are the roots of the tree, and their textiles are the trunk. From here, they can grow their plans like branches. They want to buy land and construct the cooperative’s buildings together, where they will have a school for their activities and training. There, they will be able to teach the young kids about weaving, have a store and an exhibition space for their work, and a diner-café where they will serve their traditional foods to visitors. With enough sun and rain, they hope that one day their dreams will come true.'
–website of Cotzal Weaving Cooperative: http://www.tejidoscotzal.org/US/index.html