My name is Catherine. I have a background in fashion and had the opportunity to work with the members of Sabor del Sol for a few months as they were learning to sew on machines and create new designs to expand their business. We focused on aprons but worked on many other skills as well.

As a volunteer, it is assumed that I am the one giving – giving my time, my knowledge, my skills – whatever it may be. In truth, however, I’ve quickly come to find that it is those in my position who stand to receive just as much, if not more, than those they are helping.

In my first three weeks working with the beautiful women of Sabor de Sol, nothing has become more apparent to me than the amount of strength these women posses.

When I had first arrived in Guatemala, I was truly taken by the role of the women in the indigenous culture. The way they carried themselves- and anything and everything else that needed to be carried – with such humble strength. Most of them working all day to return home to take care of their families. My initial reaction was near broken-heartedness – each time wanting to help as I saw the weight of the load these women bore. But although they were not too proud to accept a hand, it occurred to me; they did not want, nor need any pity.

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Their strength, both physical and in character, is what empowers them. It drives them and their communities to persevere. It truly is a palpable energy — a survivor’s energy. It allows them to face things without doubts, and seemingly, without fear.

The women of Sabor de Sol fully embody this cultural strength. Their eagerness to learn with such determination is immeasurable. Not only is it their appreciation for the opportunity to learn new skills, but also their openness to the vulnerability of doing so. This is a virtue that is much too often overlooked, and in my opinion has become increasingly rare in Western culture. It is one of the things I admire most about these women.

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The aprons, or gabachas, which I have been working with the women to perfect, represent much more than a one-of-a-kind kitchen accessory. They represent the dedication of these women. A dedication to bettering their lives, the lives of their families and the livelihood of their community. They represent the dedication of Justa and Global Just Designs, Jed & Marne, and passionate volunteers. A dedication to creating life-altering opportunities for a community in need. A dedication to creating a platform for development within Sabor de Sol, that not only allows the women to earn money for their work, but gives them the tools to continue to develop upon, and expand their self-sufficiency as a cooperative. And finally, these aprons serve as a deep connection between the dedicated work of these woman in Guatemala, and the dedicated support of people all over the world.