Concern America’s first project was in the country of Bangladesh. In fact, we first incorporated as Concern for Bangladesh, which then became Concern America: the “America” in our name was actually chosen to differentiate us from two other Concern organizations.

Our first project was gathering and sending large kitchen equipment for a cooking school and kitchen for a public hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh. As with all Concern America projects, we operate based on the needs of the local community. Other projects emerged in Bangladesh, such as supporting women to produce and sell their traditional crafts with trainings in additional skills, all to support their families.

All these years later, we continue to engage with Corr-The Jute Works, the artisan cooperative that grew out of these efforts. We invite you to take a moment to view some of their beautiful work, ranging from weaving baskets out of jute, a locally available material, and beautiful ceramic pieces.

As Concern America began working in other countries, there was a prevalent need for sustainable income generation. This was especially true with the displaced and refugee communities in and from Guatemala with whom we worked with throughout the 80s and continuing to date. We began supporting their weaving and embroidery cooperatives, some of which are profiled below as we still work together decades later.

We are excited this month, as part of our 50th-anniversary celebrations, to acknowledge the incredible work of so many artisans, who, through their artistry, are able support their families and their communities. Please take a moment to read below about all of these artisan groups with whom we currently work, and click here to look at and buy any of their beautiful items, all purchased directly from the artisans themselves at prices they set.

Artisan Cooperatives

CORR – The Jute Works

The first artisan group we partnered with, CORR- the Jute Works in Bangladesh, is a group started by and comprised of widows and victims of war from rural communities. The cooperative trains its members, as well as supports a local school for women.

Flor del Campo

“We are 25 Kaqchikel women who work together to improve our lives.” Concern America helped train these women to run a sustainable business. They work as an independent cooperative, producing hand woven items made on back strap and floor looms, using naturally dyed thread.

La Semilla de Dios

La Semilla de Dios is a cooperative of artisans of limited economic resources making wooden items painted in the famous La Palma region folk art style. The cooperative owns a piece of land where they plant and sustainably harvest trees to supply about 40% of their wood.

Las Abejas de Acteal

Las Abejas translates to “the bees,” and named so because working cooperatively makes more “honey.” In recent decades, most of their families were forced off their land. Collectively, the group continues their struggle for peace and justice while earning a living through weaving and embroidering.

Mujeres Sembrando la Vida

From Chiapas, Mexico is the cooperative, Mujeres Sembrando la Vida (Women Sowing Life). The artisans’ beautiful weavings and embroidery integrate images from their daily lives, most notably the flowers that are found in the Zinacatán region. In addition to the life-sustaining craft income, a full 10% of all sales is re-invested in their cooperative.

Cuchareros Ixchel de Petén

This cooperative formed out of Concern America’s health practitioner training program in Petén, Guatemala, as a way to supplement the loss of income from the their time away from their communities. Made up of rural farmers who had been refugees or internally displaced due to the country’s civil war, the artisans handcraft these spoons out of local, natural hardwoods native and sustainably harvested in the humid jungles of northern Guatemala.

Yachil Antzetic

Maria de Nazareth

Tejidos Guadalupe

It Takes a Village

We want to share the voices of a group of super volunteers, the Garner sisters, who frequently volunteer to help ensure craft sales are a success.

We are so thankful to our community of supporters for volunteering their time and lending a hand with craft sales at events. The dedication and care you bring is invaluable. Volunteering at a Concern America craft sale is fun, easy and makes a huge difference. If you would like to donate your time, please send us an email to learn more about volunteering.

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