I’ve lived in a small Mayan village in the cool green highlands of Guatemala for most of my married life. Our friends and neighbors are indigenous Pokomchi people who speak their own ancient language and see the world much differently than I do. Nevertheless, we have a lot in common. Globalization presses on them like it presses on me, and they’re raising their children with limited resources, like we are. Because of that, I’m always thinking of better ways to stretch our budget, and live responsibly in this beautiful corner of God’s creation.
So when my Pokomchi friend Julia showed me a new handcraft she’d learned from a Peace Corp volunteer in our town, I saw something special! It was an application of that 60’s phenomenon they called “gumwrappers.” Julia had taken chip bags, cut and folded them in a bright zigzag style, and created cool stuff with them! She showed me a little change purse, a pair of earrings, and a bracelet. Their vivid colors reminded me of my favorite snack foods—but they were durable, light, and functional. Furthermore, they put to good use the litter which plagued our village paths.
I liked Julia’s ingenious products so much I knew other people would too. So I began showing them informally to friends and family, offering them for sale on behalf of my Pokomchi friend. I called it ecolink to identify the eco-friendly conjoining of snack packaging squares.
One day the envelope in which I kept the proceeds of the ecolink sales was bulging, so I sent my young son over to Julia’s house, just down the village path from us, to deliver the earnings.
A week later Julia came to my door with her baby son Samuel perched contentedly in her arms. “Beth, I came to tell you something,” she said. “Our baby got so sick last week, and the doctor told us we needed to buy a special antibiotic medicine for him. But we didn’t have any money. My husband was very discouraged. At that moment, your son showed up at our door with the envelope from the sales! It was the precise amount we needed to buy Samuel’s medicine. My husband said, ‘Now I know there’s a God in heaven.’ He bought the medicine, and Samuel is much better!
“So I came to say thank you. Thank you for helping us market the ecolink product. It’s making a big difference in our lives!”