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DeWitt woman sows threads of hope abroad

McTyre-Watts spoke highly of the collaboration with SU.

"Whitman school faculty and staff raised the money for the thread store project," she said. "I brought the women's dream of a store to [their] attention and they took the project on."

In addition to the thread store project, McTyre-Watts works with five other artisan groups from villages across Guatemala. During her upcoming trip, she will touch base with other co-op organizations; ideally, she would like to see all co-ops working together.

For McTyre-Watts, the reward is helping those in need. She looks forward to seeing one woman in particular: a Mayan woman who works at a footloom to support her 11 children. Her husband moved to Guatemala City to find work, and he lacks the funds to visit frequently.

"They are really struggling," McTyre-Watts said of the family. "I'd like to give them enough work so that he can come back home."

Unfortunately, many of the Guatemalans share similar stories of hardship, which often results in a bond. One group of weavers in Chimaltenango, Guatemala, bonded over unimaginable pain and loss.

"The women are all survivors from the civil war, so everyone in the group has lost a family member to the war either a husband a son or a brother," McTyre-Watts said.

The weaving group formed in an attempt to support each other in a time of economic and emotional trauma.

As a goal for her trip this July, McTyre-Watts plans to collect and publish the stories of the men and women artisans from Guatemala on the Fair World Marketplace website: fairworldmarketplace.com.

Her trip will also result in the development of new products to suit the constantly changing American marketplace. A large role of fair traders is to show artisans from other countries the type of product that will sell in the United States. This is no small task, considering the minute budget of the workers.

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