It’s a Friday afternoon in Santiago, Guatemala—a small town with a large indigenous Mayan population on Lake Atitlán. I’m standing on a cleanly swept dirt floor around a long wooden table, watching a group of local women sit and sift through piles of beads before they string them into beautiful multicolored beaded cuffs. I’m here with eleven other Noonday Ambassadors, on a weeklong trip to visit four Artisan partner groups.
As I look back on our week in Guatemala, what I will be taking away
from this experience are the people I got to meet and what I learned
from them, especially from the leaders of our Artisan partner groups.
During our time with Ana, an amazing woman leader working in Santiago, I loved seeing the sense of pride she has in her work. She
enjoys who she works with, laughing and learning alongside them. She is
always trying to improve—from constructing a tin roof over their rear
workspace to switching from a wood-burning fire to propane gas to heat
their dye (which can be hazardous for their health and also enables them
to produce more—and thus earn more). Ana is proud of the work she has
created for her community and leads them well.
On another day in the nearby town of San Juan La Laguna, we got to
meet Cristobol, one of Noonday’s key Artisan partners in Guatemala.
Cristobol has a passion for empowering others, despite
the difficult circumstances he went through in his past. I was so moved
by the way he has built a network of teams in his workshop—we met the
eight women who each have their own team, allowing them to learn
leadership skills, and they even share the various steps involved in the
creation of each bracelet.
Because of the work they’ve received through Noonday, each of these
eight women leaders in Cristobol’s team have been able to open their own
personal bank account and he’s also currently training twenty-one
additional women to have a trade and soon join his team. He’s looking
out for his community and I walked away from our time together inspired
to grow even more involved in my own home community.
Finally, I loved meeting Rosario and her team. Rosario has a determination to pursue her dreams. She
drives four hours one-way every weekend to attend university and is
also putting her daughters through school right now. In a community
where it’s often typical for a girl to only complete education through
sixth grade, Rosario’s determination to see her children and all of her
female Artisans complete their education was humbling and inspiring to
witness. She said that Ambassador trips always bring her joy and peace.
It was amazing to realize our connection was just as meaningful for both
This trip was a beautiful picture of how no matter what your role is
in life and in the world, you matter. Whether you’re a Noonday Artisan
partner, Ambassador, Hostess or customer, every role is vital and dependent on each other. I am so thankful to now have that perspective.
Now when I see our pieces, I see more than jewelry—I see the faces
behind them, and the stories they shared with us. Just as the women in
Rosario’s workshop transformed individual glass beads into wearable
works of art, I now feel an even stronger connection with the
story of Noonday—all of our individual stories, of Artisans and
Ambassadors, woven together across the world.