Belize Women's Pottery Cooperative

Location: San Antonio, Belize | All Central America & Caribbean Projects ›

Critical Need: The village of San Antonio in western Belize, has its roots in Mayan traditions, a mainly substistence agricultual community of 3500.  Here, the average family size is seven, with women having between 5-10 children.  Here, as in many cultures around the world where resources are scarce, education for women is not prioritized. Girls often go without attending school beyond primary levels. Government support is not easy to access, and so women need alternative forms of income help support their children's education, and send their daughters to high school. With little education, many girls and boys find themselves unemployed at an early age, perpetuating a cycle of poverty.

About the project: The Belize Pottery Cooperative in San Antonio was formed by the local The San Antonio Women’s Group made up of nine Mayan Belizean women. They started this group in order to find a way to earn an income, learn new, interesting skills, and share their traditional knowledge not only with visitors, but with the younger generation. Their first visitor was a professor, learning about Mayan ceramics, and Timotea Mesh, president of the group, calls him their angel. He asked them about the clay and had them start to show him the traditional way of mixing it and using it and from there they had the idea to bring more visitors to learn. The ladies organized themselves and put what little resources they had together, to get an expert in both traditional Mayan pottery and modern techniques, to teach them more about a cultural tradition they were losing.  They then slowly built things like their outdoor kitchen and eating area, so that they could start to host groups of students, including Belizean high school students, and eventually, international travellers. Without a link to the tourism industry there are few opportunities for women’s employment beyond domestic service. 

G Adventures travellers try their hand at ancient pottery making techniques with a group of the Mayan artisans, enjoy a delicious home-made lunch, and have a chance to purchase pottery and other crafts made by the ladies.  They are now training youth who are unemployed, from the community, so that they too can benefit from the tourism in their village.  

Why this project needs you: With help from donors, Planeterra will be able to help the ladies build a workshop area to host larger groups of travellers so that they can participate in pottery lessons comfortably, and in turn benefit the cooperative with an increase in visitors by at least 1000 per year with the corresponding increase in income that will provide more jobs to more women and youth in the community. Please help support this project by donating to our PLANET Her Campaign.