This year is 18 years since Wakami was founded. It all started with the mission to transform hard realities in rural communities in Guatemala- communities where war had destroyed everything, communities were poverty, and even famine, was an everyday reality.
We started Wakami in partnership with the families, especially the women in these communities. Not to decrease poverty, but to create abundance and prosperity – that was their dream and it was also my dream for them.
We look back 18 years, and we see that the dream – IT ALREADY IS!!! Which is the meaning of Wakami – it already is. We know in Wakami words are very powerful, and this one has become no exception.
The greatest gift, is that the dream we wished for communities, would also be a dream that embraced many of us – the Wakami team, the Wakami travellers, and other precious stakeholders that have been part of the journey.
I am one of those priviledged people that the dream has not just transformed, but totally taken over.
One of our board members, Juan Carlos Paiz, said once to me- “Maria, Wakami will be stronger when it is not only set up to transform others – like rural communities – but also ourselves, also you. When Wakami is set up to transform you as well, that is when real strength will come from”.
Juan Carlos has always challenged me. I did not quite get it then, or knew how to go about it, but he was so right.
The Wakami dream has been twitched lately, and not by me, but my Ana, the Wakami creative director, who is my daughter as well – with the end result of being all inclusive for people that dream of a better world.
After one day of visiting rural communities with her, some in which we were looking at Maguey – a natural fiber – being harvested, and processed, and turned into a bag, and another community where we were looking at regenerative agriculture practices -chickens, eggs, organic vegetables, diversified coffee crops- Ana said – “Mom, imagine that rural families could have both – the fiber production and hand-made production, as well as chickens, eggs, vegetables, fruits, coffee – they will really thrive.
So we twitched the dream a bit – and that twitch, made it a dream not just for rural communities but also for people like me, for people that have partnered with Wakami because we are fascinated by the lifestyle that is starting to emerge by being part of the Wakami community – the hidden gift for all of us that have participated in this space.
So, here is the dream – in pieces –
“We dream of houses with gardens, and flowers and bees.”
As Wakami, we are working with 5 communities in regenerative agriculture. Meaning they have coffee crops with different trees that serve to create shadow, including banana trees. They all have chickens that lay eggs, and fertilize the organic vegetables, flowers and coffee crops. Bees are natural visitors.
And as I write this, I am celebrating our new home garden in MN. I would have never imagined the garden my husband built for us – we planted many different flowers and vegetables, and I cannot go outside enough to see what has changed, what needs care, what is sprouting, what is ready for harvest, what will be served at our table. In dreaming of gardens for rural communities, somehow, I find myself enjoying a garden sent to me -via Bob.
“Shared tables, with moms and dads that work and prosper, and boys and girls that go to school and play”.
This is the second part of the dream. The shared table concept has emerged realized that when people come together, as a couple, as a family, as friends, as community – food is at the heart of it all. For good times, for hard times, for normal times. A shared table is at the heart of everything in our lives. However, it is still seen as a dream, because in Guatemala too many families have a dad in the US for work and a mom that has stayed behind, taking care of things, with the hope enough money will be made in the US to transform their reality.
Through the income generated now by regenerative agriculture, and especially through hand made products (bracelets, bags, clothes, home décor) that are sold in Guatemala and exported to the world, not migrating is starting to become an option. And for some families, like Doña Gloria in San Jose Poaquil, the dream is to have enough coffee and chickens and eggs so her husband can come back. In the hand made sector, Wakami is becoming a market for over 40 enterprises and an accelerator for 15 more. Over 1500 people are starting to see an increase in their income, that means more food on a shared table, that we hope soon, will have both parents sitting in the same one!.
As as we have mentioned, in a country were the average school attendance is 4-6 years, the Wakami children have 8.8 years – both boys and girls are going to school more!!!
But what about my shared table. This is where I am also at aw of how crowded it has become. Kids and their +1, my parents, my sister’s family. . . So many friends, so many communities with whom we share a meal, rotarian picnics, weddings, celebrations . . . My table was not so crowded before. Now, every meal, I just pinch myself, knowing I am sharing a table with people I love, and eating part of the food we grow . . .
“ A place where we take care of the Earth and the Earth takes care of us”.
The earth, if we connect with it, will always take care of us. In Guatemala, you spit a seed and it will sprout. We have just forgotten the natural ways, the ancestral knowledge, the value in native plants, the huge biodiversity in our country and in the world.
Through regenerative agriculture, we can tap into that almost forgotten or hidden knowledge in communities, but that we have started to discover. Once attention is given to it, knowledge will emerge out of these communities for al off the world to benefit.
Its fun to see chicken’s not only laying eggs, but the manure regenerating the soil, see native plants bear fruit, see diversity coming back to spaces. Its but a privilege to give back to a planet that sustains our life.
Total numbers of Wakami are about 85 enterprises we are working with, and over 1,500 people.
We have much more work ahead, but that does not mean we get to celebrate over each of those families that have found their dreams to become a reality, and celebrating how WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND – and in this case, the dream has also wrapped us up and transformed us.
I love working towards this dream, together with the 80 team members in Wakami, and our stakeholders all over the world.
IT ALREADY IS.
And thank you, all that have been part of this journey and made this possible – a space where we get transformed, where we find and learn new ways, where we each have a talent that gets multiplied by other’s talents and celebrated at a big shared table.