Santa Rosa Stitches provides the resources for impoverished women in El Salvador to support themselves and their families through the creation of artisan, handmade jewelry, knit/crochet items, greeting cards, and more. Our artisans (16-60 years) live in a village on a remote mountaintop in the country outside of San Salvador. This is one of the poorest villages in El Salvador, as there is a 98% unemployment rate in the village. Most of these women don’t have electricity and work at night by candle light. Their homes are made of corrugated steel and have a dirt floor. They are faith-filled, relationship-oriented, beautiful people with whom we have developed lifelong friendships and connections.
With the proceeds from Santa Rosa Stitches these women have been able to send their children to school, make improvements to their homes, obtain healthcare, and help feed their families. Santa Rosa Stitches has helped these ladies develop a new sense of confidence and a stronger voice in their village.
Get to know Rita!
What inspired you to social justice and/or the fair trade movement?
About 7 years ago, I started working at the St. Dominic parish office, which has a robust mission program with the small mountain village of Chiltiupan, El Salvador. The pastor, Fr. Tom Fanta, wants every church employee to go on a mission trip so I went with him and a group of people about six months after I started the job. One of the women on my trip was Angie Gallan, the founder of Santa Rosa Stitches. She and I had been acquaintances up to that point (our sons are the same age and were in classes together). I met the Salvadoran women of Santa Rosa Stitches on that trip and soon after, Angie asked me to become more involved with the group. We are now an independent non-profit organization and I have been traveling to El Salvador ever since, approximately three times a year, to bring materials and supplies, help the women design new products, and bring the finished goods back to the USA for sale.
How is fair trade changing the life of your artisans?
The women are able to send their children to school; upgrade to concrete floors, install electricity & running water. They take pride in the work they produce and have become more vocal in their hopes for the future.
What do you want Expo shoppers to know about your booth?
All of our items are handmade in El Salvador. Our artisans are the only people who pull a paycheck in out business. All of the staff in our booth and behind the scenes are volunteers.
Do you have any upcoming events you would like us to promote?
Our Holiday Open House is December 6th and 7th at the home of one of our supporters. Stop by our booth for an invitation to this free event!