In September 2002 a devastating hurricane, Hurricane Isidore, hit the states of Yucatán and Campeche, leaving a trail of destruction in its path. In these two states there are many rural Maya communities that were severely affected by this hurricane. As a result of seeing the destruction and devastation caused to these communities, Grupo Plan, a corporation that owns a number of haciendas in the Yucatán, started the project La Fundación de las Haciendas del Mundo Maya, AC (in English, The Haciendas Foundation of the Maya World).

The Haciendas Foundation was founded as a unique union between the tourism project developed by the group (Grupo Plan) that specializes in innovative tourist developments (the hacienda hotels) and the Maya communities where the haciendas are located.

Fundacion Haciendas del Mundo Maya

This non-profit organization was created with the idea of helping these rural Maya communities get out of the poverty that they find themselves in as they try to change their ways and adapt to the 21st century. 

Through various programs, the promoters are working with 177 artisans in 14 villages that surround the haciendas that they own.

Working directly with the women in the villages, they are seeing that when women are empowered with education and skills, entire families benefit – and when families benefit, the entire village benefits. 

While respecting the customs and beliefs of the Maya, the promoters are helping them to perfect the trades they already know and learn new ones, so that that they receive economic benefits from their products.

The Maya women are gifted embroiderers and weavers. The Haciendas Foundation recognized that they needed help with quality control and merchandising in order to bring the finished products to people interested in buying them. The Hacienda Foundation of the Maya World project has helped them with these needs and details, and helped them set up stores where they sell their products directly to the public.

The motto of the Foundation project is the Maya saying naat-ha which means  knowing and understanding to transform. And this is exactly what is happening in the villages where this program has been implemented – lives are changing for the better. In fact, lives are changing in such a positive way, the program has become “contagious,” and now the neighboring villages want the same knowledge and assistance for themselves.

The promoters believe that they are working in the right direction and that their actions are well worth the effort. At present there are various stores where the products these families produce can be purchased. Casa de Montejo on the Zocalo in Merida, the Centro Cultural y Artesanal in Izamal, and in Campeche opposite the Hacienda Puerta Campeche, as well as the Parador Ochil and the boutiques of the Haciendas Santa Rosa, Temozón Sur, and San José.

When you purchase one of these products you are helping a family end the vicious cycle of poverty. In 2007, the Foundation won first place in the important World Travel and Tourism Tourism for Tomorrow Award in New Delhi.

Recommended reading:
Haciendas Foundation of the Maya World – Medicinal Herbs


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