These orange beaded earrings made by Mayan artists in Chiapas are beautiful and easy to wear, as well as being one of our favorite ways to support indigenous peoples and cultures!
Bordering Guatemala, Chiapas is the southernmost state of Mexico, with around a quarter of its population made up of indigenous people. Chiapas is also the poorest state in Mexico, with an annual GDP per capita in 2018 of $7,249 USD (20 peso to 1 USD) with a very wide income gap and around 76% of the people living in poverty. A Harvard study from 2014 shows the median household income at around $2,685 USD (14.7 peso to 1 USD) per year. Earning about $10-12 USD a day is just a part of life for many of the Mayan indigenous communities in Mexico.
Our team recently met up in Yucatán and had the honor of all spending time together with one of the predominantly Mayan pueblos that we work closely with, Tahmek, where people make this $10-12/day type of income. The spirit and sense of community was welcoming and impossible to ignore, as was the aromas of food as the sun set. While a variety of fare was being prepared in every direction, the majority of what we saw were hot-dogs, chips, and Coca-cola. It was evident that a even just a few more dollars a day would make a huge difference in these small indigenous towns, and for many it is their arts and their crafts that can grant them this extra income.