There is a beautiful word, with roots in Nahuatl, for two women who share the same name – tocaya. On October 27th, 2023, Norma Chairez-Hartell and Norma Ester Subuyuj Boj, tocayas from New Mexico and Guatemala, met for the first time. These two young women were instrumental in making our 9th Annual Scholarship Fundraiser for Maya youth in Belize, Chiapas, and Guatemala a success. Norma H. is Curator of the NMSU University Museum in Las Cruces where we held our fundraiser. Norma S. is a former scholarship recipient. After graduating with a business degree in Guatemala, Norma S. started a textile business in Antigua, Guatemala – Nakoj (Roar of the Lion) in Kakchiquel. Nakoj supports women weavers in Norma’s community, Santo Domingo Xenacoj. In her talk, Norma S. said that she is humbled to know that people in the U.S. who didn’t even know her, believed in her and helped her go to university.
We raised $3,982.10 from the sales of donated textiles and other items from Latin America. Although we have brought in more at previous fundraisers, in light of the robbery at our store last summer, this is a good result. A friend recently reminded me that fundraisers such as ours are most importantly about community building and we felt that in spades this year. One of new Steering Committee members, Guillermo Acosta, lives in Mesilla where he reached out for help from friends and businesses there. One family of siblings covered the marigolds for our Day of the Dead ofrenda, a café helped sell Cuban film posters, and a restaurant and individuals covered meals and lodging for our guests.
In the photo at the top, Norma H. is wearing a tunic from Sololá, Guatemala that she purchased at the fundraiser. The tunic was donated by Judiann McNulty. The photo below shows our other guest speaker, Elisabeth Nicholson (on the right). Elisa is Director of the Maya Educational Foundation, without whom none of this would be possible. Elisa came all the way from Cape Cod to be with us. To her left is Beverley Spears from Santa Fe, and to Beverley’s left is Christine Eber of Weaving for Justice. The last photo is of NMSU student Emma Alvarez de la Rosa making our ofrenda for Día de Los Muertos.
We welcome donations of textiles and other items throughout the year. We sell them at our 3rd Saturday sales, along with textiles from Chiapas collectives, at First Christian Church in Las Cruces. Please email Christine Eber – firstname.lastname@example.org – for instructions on donating. For more information about the Maya Educational Foundation go to www.mayaedufound.org
Thank you to all who attended our fundraiser and to the many volunteers and textile donors who made it possible!