Starting this Giving Tuesday through the end of the year, we are gifting a hand stitched mask from a Mazahua artisan impacted by COVID 19.  Donate $100 or more on our website and help to prevent human trafficking through economic empowerment of vulnerable individuals and communities. When we reduce risk factors and provide viable alternatives for income, we empower vulnerable persons and prevent human trafficking. 

18 year old Edith is an indigenous woman from the Mazahua community. The Mazahua represent one of the most populous indigenous-speaking groups in México with about 17,000 Mazahuas living in Mexico City alone and a total of 120,000 residing countrywide. 

Edith, her family, and the broader Mazahua community have been heavily impacted by COVID-19. According to the UN, indigenous peoples in nearly all countries fall into the most “vulnerable” health category. In Mexico, in most municipalities with a population of indigenous people, there is a lack of potable water service and educational infrastructure, but above all, they do not have first-level hospital care. This creates a heightened vulnerability during COVID when their main source of income requires public engagement and risk of exposure.

UN warns of the devastating impact of COVID-19 on indigenous communities worldwide.

Traffickers prey specifically on income and housing vulnerabilities when choosing their victims, and this population is more at risk now than ever. Traffickers are aware of the desperation that comes with unemployment and target these individuals using deception to persuade potential victims to take jobs that are highly underpaid or sexual in nature. Feeling they have no other option, victims are convinced that they must work for the trafficker and meet their demands to make ends meet. Unemployment and lack of economic opportunities make family members of vulnerable groups leave their families and communities and immigrate to other cities and states, creating vulnerabilities for both those who move and those who stay.

Edith stitching masks for sale at local shops and tourist markets.

Economic empowerment is key for the prevention of human trafficking. By purchasing one of Edith’s face masks, you are helping to provide income, and putting an end to the cycle of human trafficking by preventing the path to potential victimization. 

NEW NORMAL AND CREATIVE SOLUTIONS

Most of the Mazahua are engaged in agricultural pursuits, specifically the growing of maize, pumpkin, maguey and frijol. In the capital, the Mazahuas are underemployed and marginalized. Many of them make a living as vendors, selling all kinds of goods on the streets and Edith’s parents are not an exception. Her father sells sweets while her mother sells corn pancakes. At the same time, most Mazahua community members are part-time artisans. 

An indigenous woman selling facemasks in the streets of Mexico City. During COVID, it is more common to see indigenous artisans struggling to sell their art craft to local and foreign tourism. Some of them have signs trading their products for groceries.

Edith’s parents have more than 20 years of experience in making crafts. Edith, who inherited their passion and talent, learns how to paint and create unique Mazahua art, watching her mom and dad. Every item is handcrafted, from blouses to table runners to  hats to wallets and purses, and much more. She has never gone to school, and the ideas for design come from her own culture, an expression of Mazahua ideals.  

The Mazahua are famous for their traditional embroidery that is recognized internationally in museums and galleries across the world. It’s elements rely heavily on local flora and fauna, such as flowers and birds.  

Donate $100 or more on our website and get a hand stitched mask from a Mazahua artisan, infusing resources into their community which was significantly impacted by COVID 19. 

These complex patterns are created without guides or tracings on the fabric. Instead, craftswomen count threads to keep designs straight and evenly spaced. 

The pandemic dramatically impacted Edith’s family and the whole community of indigenous artisans, as their main clients and source of income were tourists. But Edith and her family got creative and shifted their focus to making face masks. Now all her family, including parents and sister, are working on producing masks. 

They use the same Mazahua art inspired designs and techniques, including mbevirtu, a Mazahua specific stitching pattern style.

Donate $100 or more on our website and get a hand stitched mask from a Mazahua artisan, infusing resources into their community which was significantly impacted by COVID 19. 

Starting this Giving Tuesday through the end of the year, we are gifting a hand stitched mask from Edith with every donation of $100 or more on our website

By purchasing these masks and helping to provide income to hard-hit communities, we are aiming put an end to the cycle of human trafficking by preventing the path to potential victimization. The empowerment of vulnerable persons by reducing risk factors and providing viable alternatives is an essential step to disrupting human trafficking.