Nanaimo’s Louise Sosa, founder of Aldea Maya charity, sets up sewing machines in Chuk Muk, Guatemala earlier this year. PHOTO SUBMITTED

Nanaimo charity helps to create fair-trade job opportunities abroad

Aldea Maya works with Rotary club to start sewing operation in Guatemalan highland village

A Nanaimo-based charity has found another way to try to make a sustainable effort to improve people’s lives in a far-off village.

Aldea Maya delivered, earlier this year, five industrial sewing machines and three other related machines to a small operation in Chuk Muk, Guatemala, in a region impacted by a 2005 mudslide that killed more than a thousand people.

The charitable project was funded by Rotary International, through the Lantzville Morning Rotary Club. Aldea Maya ensured the right machines were bought, delivered and set up in Chuk Muk, and trained workers there how to use the equipment.

Louise Sosa, Aldea Maya founder, said the project has created a dozen direct jobs, plus spinoff jobs for others in the village who do weaving, embroidery and beadwork. She said there are no easy ways for the Tz’utujil Maya people to make money there.

“They love it, and they’re so empowered because these women can’t read or write or even speak Spanish, so they have no opportunity to get any other kind of job,” Sosa said. “That they’re able to operate these different industrial machines and make things, they’re pretty proud of themselves.”

The workers have a partnership with Mercado Global, a non-profit that connects indigenous artisans in Guatemala with international clients.

Micaela Pablo, interviewed in an Aldea Maya video, expressed thanks and said the women are hard at work.

“Now we are so happy because we have a monthly income that we did not have before this project,” said Pablo, according to a translation. “For me, this means a lot because it benefits me as a mother, to support my home and my children to continue studying.”

Sosa said Aldea Maya is a registered Canadian charity that has been working on garden, nutrition, education and sustainability projects in the Guatemala highlands for 11 years. For more information, visit

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