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Volunteer with TRAMA Textiles in Guatemala

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A woman represented by TRAMA textiles.
TRAMA represents Guatemalan women from the western highlands of Sololá, Huehuetenango, Sacatepéquez, Quetzaltenango and Quiché. Photo courtesy of TRAMA Textiles.

TRAMA Textiles is a women’s weaving association in Guatemala’s second city, Quetzaltenango (more commonly referred to by its indigenous name, Xela, or SHAY-la). Xela’s population of 225,000 is just over 60 percent indigenous. The association works with 17 weaving cooperatives representing roughly 400 women from five regions of the Guatemalan highlands. Their mission is to “create work for fair wages for the women of Guatemala.”

[pullquote align=right]The association works with 17 weaving cooperatives representing roughly 400 women from five regions of the Guatemalan highlands.[/pullquote]Volunteers work in the TRAMA office in Xela. Possible responsibilities include: helping out in the store, fundraising or marketing, researching international sales possibilities and updating the product catalog, managing the website and graphic design, or, for those with multiple language skills, translating. Volunteers who learn how to weave may assist students in the weaving classes.

A group of Guatamalan women with a weaver working on a loom.
TRAMA’s mission is to create work for fair wages for the women of Guatemala. Photo courtesy of TRAMA Textiles.

While there are no minimums in terms of time commitment or language skills, the longer one can stay and the more advanced the Spanish skills, the more complex the projects volunteers can take on.

For those who want to start or improve their Spanish, there are many language schools in Xela. Through the schools or independently, volunteers can visit nearby indigenous villages and markets, take salsa classes, play soccer, visit hot springs and volcanoes, and learn the ancient art of backstrap loom weaving. TRAMA offers weaving courses that range from one hour (US$5) to 30 hours (US$130).

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TRAMA Textiles

Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
tel. 502/7765-8564
http://www.tramatextiles.org

Application Process: An application form is available online, which must be downloaded and then submitted via email. Families are welcome.

Cost: None. Volunteers are responsible for their own expenses.

Placement Length: There is no minimum.

Language Requirements: None.

Housing: Volunteers must make own arrangements.

Operating Since: 1988

Number of Volunteers: Approximately 75 in 2012

Guatemalan women hand weaving on a loom.
Photo courtesy of TRAMA textiles.

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Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Volunteer Vacations in Latin America.

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