By Waly Ruiz, Rancho el Paraiso Managerial Secretary
“On behalf of all the members of our group, we are grateful to Rancho el Paraiso and especially to the North American volunteers that visit for the support that they’ve given in buying our products. We hope to continue growing together, because we’re very happy with what we’ve accomplished with their collaboration.” – Ana Sarmiento, President of El Paisaje
Juana Sarmiento (left) and Ana Laura Sarmiento, President of El Paisaje
Visiting the villages of El Aguacate and Talquezate in Gualaco, you will find a group of women who form a microenterprise called “El Paisaje”, or “Landscape”. These women dedicate themselves to creating hand-woven baskets made from nylon thread and the area’s abundant pine needles. Each basket takes several hours to complete.
Materials used for creating baskets
The idea to form this group emerged when a German development organization, PRORENA, began searching for solutions to the lack of employment in the area. In 2007, they offered training in developing the artisan baskets. The group was initially formed by only 13 women. Today there are 21 members, benefiting 71 people in 19 families.
Thanks to the support of organizations like PRORENA and others, they have succeeded in selling their products in artisan fairs. HOI has also given the women the opportunity to sell the baskets to North American volunteers that come each year, and Rancho el Paraiso’s Tienda El Jícaro is currently the only venue that continuously sells their baskets.
Baskets for sale at Rancho el Paraiso
The quality of life for people involved in this project has improved, allowing them the opportunity to better their homes. With their income from selling baskets, they are able to send their children to school.
Since the baskets use pine needles, the women have also become active in reforestation projects, fire control efforts to help prevent forest fires in the area, and training other villagers on forest control.
The baskets created by El Paisaje can be found in the Tienda El Jícaro at Rancho el Paraíso and will be offered for sale through the HOI website in early 2014.