The year before I became Executive Director of MCC Canada, a friend and I took a three-month trip through Central and South America. We visited Lake Atitlán in Guatemala by boat, stopping in on three lakeside towns, including Santiago Atitlán. This is prime Guatemalan tourist territory and everywhere, we noticed beautiful bead and fabric art by local artisans.
I don’t remember if I bought anything but I remember hearing other tourists say: “No matter how much you like it, bargain for a lower price.” The aim was to get the best deal possible.
This past year, I was in Guatemala again, this time to visit MCC’s work in the country, seeing a very different side of the life of artisans through one of our partners, ANADESA. Many parents struggle to support families on the income from beading sales, and sometimes the children are kept home to help prepare beaded artisan products.
We saw ANADESA engage with local youth on other ideas for income generation. We also saw teachers working with elementary school children in an after-school program, encouraging parents to keep children in school.
Presently, MCC is working with 528 partners, like ANADESA, in 54 countries around the world.
Partners like ANADESA, with their extensive connections and insights, give us a view from the inside — a lens that helps us to see the needs and realities beyond the tourist beauty of a place and to make wise long-term investments in the life and future of a community.
On a personal note, now when artisans display their work, I no longer haggle over the price.
MCC Canada Executive Director