September 1st marked the beginning of Guatemala Nuestra, an artisan fair that lasts for the entire month of September in Guatemala’s largest department store chain.

 2011 is the 3rd consecutive year that the mothers of CREAMOS have been asked to come and sell their jewelry. 

               Each and every day this month Safe Passage mothers and volunteers can be seen selling in two of CEMACO’s locations.  Each mom meticulously dressed in black pants and an official CREAMOS white polo is charged with all of the accounting, writing receipts, working with a credit card machine, keeping their booth organized and—most importantly—selling their jewelry and their stories. 

               Each of the 25 mothers must commit to at least two shifts per week and are all working tirelessly to keep the booths stocked with jewelry and supplies. 

                There are challenges for mothers at every stage in the program.  For some of the most experienced, we are really looking to them to step up and take a leadership role.  For some who have only learned to write and do basic arithmetic in the last year, having to use those skills to write receipts under pressure is a true test.   Irma, 8th grade student in Adult Literacy and three year veteran of CEMACO says that writing receipts still makes her very nervous! 

                Despite the challenges, all agree that it is a positive experience.  Mother of two Brenda, says that the best part for her is sharing the experience with all of the other mothers in CREAMOS and that they all get to experience new things together. 

                When asked what they were planning to do with the money the unequivocal answer from every interviewee was “my children.”  Consuelo Ticun has nieces in Safe Passage’s educational reinforcement center, but her own children live and go to school in a different part of the city.  She says her priority with the money she earns this year will be to invest in her children’s education.  Brenda, 6th grade adult literacy student says that her children have recently been sick and she’s been using the money she’s earned in the last couple of weeks to buy them medicine.  Last year’s CEMACO payouts allowed mothers to buy things like beds and stoves for their families for the first time.  Selling through September 25th, we hope to hear of many similar success stories in the next month.

                If you are in Guatemala, please come check us out at CEMACO Peri-Roosevelt and Plaza CEMACO Zona-10.