Aj Quen means weaving together in the Kakichiquel language of Guatemala and it aptly describes the cooperative spirit that binds together more than 2,000 craft workers who market their work through the Aj Quen organisation.
Founded in 1989 on the initiative of workers in various parts of Guatemala, Aj Quen offers technical and financial support to producer groups wanting to improve their standard of living and preserve their country’s indigenous culture. Weavers, tailors, carpenters and basket makers work together, sharing their talents and expertise to improve production and share new design ideas.
Most workers involved in Aj Quen are women. One group living in a small village in the hills above Lake Atitlan, crochets baby bonnets, booties and cosmetic cases for major retailers. Aid to Artisans, an American NGO, helped them with product design and training in the production of goods designed for sale in the global marketplace.
Part of the money the women earn helps to support their families and the balance goes into an account for the purchase of new materials.
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