The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 14, 2001

Features

Carol Davis of Milne Cove Lane brings a taste of Central America to our area. Perhaps you saw Carol at Pig n' Pepper. Or maybe you saw her at Old Home Day or at the annual FRS Greens Sale at Union Hall. She was the one selling the beautiful handcrafted items from Guatemala and El Salvador. What you may not have realized is that Carol represents a success for many self-supporting communities in those countries. Carol is a member of Crispaz,

Carol Davis has devoted her time to supporting fair trade for the crafts people of El Salvador and Guatemala. (Photo by Ellen Huber)

which stands for Christians for Peace in El Salvador. The organization was founded in 1984, and is dedicated to supporting fair trade for the craftspeople from Guatemala and El Salvador. By buying the beautiful brightly painted wood crafts, beaded jewelry, toys, greeting cards, handbags and other woven goods, you are providing a living for families who work locally in their own regions, receive fair wages, and invest their incomes in their communities.

Traveled with her daughter

Davis, a retired art teacher and gallery owner, first experienced travel in a Spanish-speaking country when her daughter was studying in Mexico in 1990. While there, Davis attended a seminar in which a woman described her experiences in El Salvador. The talk inspired her to travel with the Center for Global Education to Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua over the next four summers. She joined Crispaz and, besides selling the handcrafts, serves on the board of directors and has traveled to El Salvador fourteen times.

Craftwork becomes the mainstay of community

But why sell crafts? What does this give to the people of El Salvador and Guatemala? By having work in their own community, the craftspeople, many of whom are women, can work in their own homes while taking care of their families. "Most of their income goes to school uniforms, school supplies and community services," said Davis. She said they have so little in the undeveloped regions no running water, no easy access to health care. But in Guatemala, one local organization called Upavim, or "Living Better for Women," has used their incomes to support a Montessori school, create a daycare center, and provide a doctor, health facility and a healthy baby program for the community.

Fair prices for quality crafts

Davis says the crafts she sells are popular and it is easy to see why: the colors are bright; the weaving is tight and clean; the hand puppets are delightful; the placemats lovely. The craftspeople are paid fair prices for their items, and are encouraged to create high-quality crafts. Though Crispaz, which is funded by private donors, is a Christian organization, Davis says members of all faiths participate in the various programs.

Volunteer in El Salvador

Crispaz has two volunteer programs, both in El Salvador. The Summer Immersion Program allows interns to live with Salvadorans and share their daily lives. The Long-Term Volunteer Program enables volunteers to live and work in a "marginalized" city or country community in El Salvador. They work with the locals, offering support in such areas as education, health care, technology or agriculture. Crispaz also offers seven- to ten-day trips, called El Salvador Encounters, in which participants can meet and develop relationships with Salvadorans.

Easy way to offer support

Davis has found the high-quality crafts practically sell themselves. She has boxed up a selection of items for other groups to sell at their own local events. If you find yourself at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Acton on December 16, please look for Davis's table full of colorful and lovely crafts. Her wares will also be sold at the Trinity Episcopal Church on Elm Street in Concord, and at St. Peter's Church in Westford on the 16. If you want to learn more about Crispaz (www.crispaz.org) or are interested in the handcrafts, you can call Davis at 1-978-369-9249.


2001 The Carlisle Mosquito