Guatemala — the soul of Origèn
For over 15 years, Origèn owner Rose Marie Stirling and her mother Elvira Sposito have spent long periods with the descendants of the Mayas in the highlands of Guatemala. “We fell in love with the descendants of the greatest Mayan Empire”, says Rose Marie. “They live in a land shaped by ancient civilizations, earthquakes, volcanoes and at times, economic and political unrest. Despite this, Guatemalan artisans continue to create truly beautiful handmade products that embody both their everyday challenges and their unfaltering life force.”
As a result, strong alliances have been established with the artisan families that supply our range of brilliantly hued and embroidered collection of jewellery, accessories, home wares and children’s toys. This unique partnership is based on respect, dignity and transparency – values that extend to the soul of the business. “We pay them a fair price and all monies go directly to the artisans. So at the same time that we’re sourcing beautiful products for our customers, they are assured that the craftsman are protected and are better able to satisfy the earning needs of their families,” Rose Marie explains.
This arrangement brings self-sufficiency to these indigenous communities and keeps ancient artistic traditions alive, while introducing Australians to exquisite handmade fashion, jewellery, home wares, toys and more.
What Origèn’s fair trade support means to the artisans of Guatemala
Supporting fair trade makes a world of difference to these communities. For centuries, Mayan descendants have worked the land and created beautiful handcrafts.
However, over the past few years, the country has been affected dramatically by the changing climate. Violent storms followed by prolonged drought have posed a serious threat to staple crops, forcing indigenous farmers to switch to a summer harvest to give their young plants the best chance. This means more irrigation and the use of drought-resistant seeds.
These farmers need technical assistance to adapt, but pressure from international financial institutions has forced many developing countries to cut spending. In addition, as food prices spiral internationally, more of a family’s income is spent purchasing the bare necessities.
By paying artisans and farmers for their handicrafts, they can stockpile beans and corn in case the next crop fails. Imagine their relief in not having to worry about whether or not their families will go hungry!
It enables them to install roofs on their houses for the rainy season. It pays for transportation to visit travelling nurses offering diphtheria boosters. It supports well digging so they can secure a consistent water source. It means they don’t have to risk their lives travelling to the US. Most importantly, it gives them hope for a better life in their country of origin.