Will I be able to volunteer with the different groups within the cooperative or visit the various locations of the groups?
TRAMA Textiles is made up of 17 different groups of weavers located in 5 districts in the highlands of Guatemala. Many of these groups have an indigenous language that is spoken such as K’iche’, Mam, Kakchiquel, Ixil and Tz’utujil and Spanish is their second language. Because of the logistical complications of distance and language barriers it is not possible to arrange for volunteers to live or work with the women in the cooperative groups. There are, however, a few women who work at the TRAMA office who will be happy to speak with you in Spanish.
Can TRAMA help arrange for me to stay with a family?
Unfortunately, we are unable to provide a homestay for volunteers. Volunteers at TRAMA Textiles are responsible for arranging their traveling, meals and living arrangements. Our partner Xelapages (www.xelapages.com) has an online classifieds page that often contains housing for rent. Also contact your Spanish school, if you are taking Spanish classes, as many schools offer homestays with families.
Who teaches the weaving classes?
Members of the cooperative teach classes. These Mayan women are experts in the art of backstrap loom weaving.
Do I need to speak Spanish to take a class?
No. Many of our students do not speak Spanish. English speaking volunteers are available to assist students, however, weaving classes can also be a great a opportunity to practice your Spanish.
Can I select the colors for the weaving I will make in class?
Absolutely. We have a wide selection of thread and you are free to choose your own colors.
I will only have a few days in Quetzaltenango. Do I have enough time to take a class?
We offer classes as short as 1 hour, during which time students can learn a good deal about the history of weaving and weaving processes. In as little as 10 hours you can make your own scarf. You will need approximately 20 hours, however, in order to complete a fabric with embroidery.
The school is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. and students are free to develop their own class schedules during these hours. You can spread your lessons out over the course of a few weeks if you like.
What does it mean to say that TRAMA’s products are fair trade?
This means that we sell our products at prices that cover the members’ costs and ensure that they are properly compensated for their labor. Each cooperative decides their own wage for their products, and the association pays them that price. The product is marked up by a small percentage (usually 5%-20%), all of which is reinvested into the organization to help pay the overhead of operating the association and the store. By purchasing our products you are supporting sustainable work practices while at the same time investing in Guatemala’s economic development.
Where is the weaving school located?
We are located in Zona 1 just north of Central Park. We are at 3a Calle 10-56, just off 12 Avenida. We are very close to many hotels and hostels, restaurants and cafes.