It’s a crazy time for everyone in the world right now and we at Yabal like many others are figuring out each day as it comes and how best to continue supporting our artisans in this crisis. Guatemala seems to just be at the beginning of the outbreak so it’s been a rapid progression over the last few days of shutting down systems and implementing a partial quarentine. The government here has shut down all borders and prohibited non-essential businesses from opening, in addition to prohibiting public transportation.
These changes came very fast from one day to the next and while it was good to be proactive against the spread of the virus, it left rural commununities stranded, without time to prepare or buy essential supplies before their transportation was cut off. Additionally, the commercial centers nearest our artisan communities have run out of almost all basic necessities including soap and disinfectants.
As of now, the Yabal office and store in Quetzaltenango are closed and our small admin team is working from home. Artisans are continuing to work on weaving orders from their homes. This last week we pre-paid all our artisan groups for their current orders to assure they have cash on hand during this time and visited the communities of Pacutama and Chuicutama, where we have 42 weavers, to bring donations of soap and disinfectant (what we could manage to buy in a short time). We also brought informational flyers for the women and talked with the weaving leaders about best practices to keep their communities safe to prevent the spread of the virus. We are currently soliciting donations in the city of Quetzaltenango of more supplies to bring out this coming week, if conditions allow.
We realize that this virus will have long-ranging consequences, not only health-wise but also economically, and are wary of how the potential lack of work will affect our artisans- an already vulnerable population with few resources to withstand a long period of quarantine without income.
Luckily, the artisans work from their homes and so weaving will continue. Shipping is also still available- so we are able to send products out to the US and Europe and receive online orders. We will continue to move forward on production orders so that our artisans can continue receiving work but with limited and careful transportation of products to and from the communities. Obviously, events are unfolding each day and we could be in a very different situation tomorrow. For the time being we are doing our best to reduce contagion while at the same time continue supporting our artisans.
We especially appreciate the continued support of our loyal customers and donors during this time! It means the world. We hope everyone stays healthy and united together, in whichever part of the world you may be!