ALBANY, N.Y (NEWS10) — A group of women in Guatemala has been passing down the tradition of weaving for more than two thousand years. It’s a tradition that Mayan Hands, a nonprofit in Albany, is on a mission to preserve.

Brenda Rosenbaum founded the fair trade nonprofit in Albany over 30 years ago. The name “Mayan Hands” comes from those who weave the ornate creations. 

The Albany resident grew up in a Jewish community in Guatemala and studied alongside Maya women as an anthropologist. Her experience led her to form Mayan Hands so that talented female Mayan weavers and artisans could access an international market for their fine handmade products. The fair trade nonprofit employs about 200 artisans. They weave baskets, bracelets, bags, table linens, and much more.

“Mayan women all around the world are known for their exquisite weaving but in their home country they experience a great deal of gender discrimination, racial discrimination and then discrimination because they live in such extreme poverty,” said Anne Kelly, the executive director at Mayan Hands.

Though known worldwide for their weaving skills, Mayan women endure racial and gender discrimination in their home country and have little opportunity to earn income. The goal at Mayan Hands is to ensure that these women receive a consistent and fair return for their work while also preserving their rich cultural traditions.