Juana is a widow who lives in the impoverished community of San Antonio Chakaya, here in Santiago. She is one of 25 women in the Ropa Justa (Just Apparel) fair-trade cooperative. It takes Juana about one hour to complete each of the pictorial designs on the textile she is working on here. In total, this piece will equate to at least 60 hours, or about two weeks, of work. An item like this can normally be sold locally for 40 Quetzales, which is just $5. When these handmade textiles are able to be sold for fair trade prices in U.S. markets, the profits are much greater, allowing women like Juana to earn more livable wages for their tedious work and long hours. Juana does this work to support her family, which includes two sons and two orphaned children.
Meeting these and other Ropa Justa women was one of the highlights of my day.