Proteje, or Protect, aims to preserve and celebrate traditional Mayan weaving practices while providing its 96 women weavers with a way to support their families. The artisans use a pre-Hispanic loom and naturally-dyed organic yarn to produce a wide variety of handicrafts. The Maya are a marginalized community in South America, and can have a difficult time finding employment, making the celebration of their traditional handicraft especially important. Proteje provides its artisans with work that can be done around housework, which brings much needed supplementary income to women who may be required to remain at home, watching children or farms.
Maria Elena Ramirez has been weaving traditional textiles for 15 years. After struggling with financial troubles, she began weaving to support her growing family. With the income that she generated through Proteje, she has been able to send her children to school and purchase her home.