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Women Artisans of Santa Cruz

Artisan Organization: Women Artisans of Santa Cruz

Country: Central America

"Since 2008, our association has worked with people in Santa Cruz La Laguna. In this community, many lack the basic necessities for daily living. The town can be reached only by boat or on foot and there is no telephone service. In fact, people must travel by boat to shop, pick up mail and access other kinds of services. Our main mission is to improve the lives of the residents, creating opportunities for professional, emotional and economic growth.

"This beautiful project began when Pat Torpie visited Santa Cruz La Laguna from the US in 1993. She realized the community had very few resources and she wanted to help. In 1998, she asked her friends, family and those close to her to donate funds and things that could be of use. With this, she was able to benefit many children who had a book in their hands for the first time. It was a magical moment.

"Given its lakeshore location and relative inaccessibility, our association's first objective is to offer opportunities for everyone, from the youngest to the oldest. We focus on education, granting more than 150 scholarships. This has let many residents pursue a university education and six have graduated so far.

"We also focus on empowering women. We've been able to establish eight projects managed totally by women. We know that today women's role stands out in society, but there is still much to do. We work with each member on self esteem, teaching them to love themselves and assuring them they are capable of making it in life.

"We've also had the opportunity to teach men and women new skills, which have helped them greatly in their personal development.

"With the resident's new skills and training, we saw the need to create job opportunities. In 2011, out organization set up a restaurant and a store. We also work with 26 women textile artisans who weave and crochet as well as 43 more who craft seed bead jewelry.

"Our work has been hard and has taken a long time but it has brought us great satisfaction because we've seen how people and their environment have totally changed.""