Easter with Puerta Abierta

Devin Graves is the monitoring and evaluation fellow for Natik. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from BYU – Idaho in Organizational Communication. He has worked with refugees and immigrants from Latin American. His wife Caitlin accompanied him on his fellowship. The below is from their personal blog.

On Friday, Caitlin and I went with the school Puerta Abierta to celebrate Easter. The Easter week in Guatemala is called, Semana Santa, and is basically the spring break for schools in Latin America. And since the director of the school is from the US, she introduces a few US traditions to the students before they take a week-long break. These traditions include the Easter Bunny, dying eggs, and having an easter egg hunt. It was such a blast.

We went out there in the back of a truck, which is a pretty popular way to get around Guatemala. They are like shared taxis, but everyone stands up in the back. Super nice for those hot days when you want to be outside.

Once we got there we helped prep for the dying of the easter eggs. Then we got to dye our very own eggs! One of the little girls gave an egg to Caitlin, so she got to dye two. None of the kids in my group were as generous. 🙂

Then the kids sang songs and played games while we hid all of the eggs. There were so many of them! We, along with our friend Michelle, literally hid hundreds of eggs. Once we finished playing the Easter Bunny, the kids had the task of finding 5 eggs each, and a personalized easter basket for each of them. Caitlin and I even had baskets we had to find, filled with candy and a mango!

We have loved working with Puerta Abierta. If anyone wants to spend some time in Guatemala volunteering, this is the place to be. We have made so many great friends here too – we love the teachers at the school. Isaias and Juanita are two really great teachers. We wish we would’ve taken pictures with more teachers, but for some reason we never really got around to it. Maybe if we see them during the week off we will grab a quick picture.

So it begins!

We are often asked, how does it work? With groups of volunteers across countries and time-zones, Natik somehow manages to help a group of indigenous female artisans (called Just Apparel) sell custom textile products internationally. Logistically, creatively, personally — how does this work?

Below is the text of the email thread that began a collaboration with Emmy Callero in Portland, OR, and it should give you an idea of how things are done.  We are excited for this project; it will give our artisans access to bigger markets as well as help them develop new skills.

 Stay tuned for progress in next few months!


Anita Smart

Anita Smart
Natik CEO
Santiago Atitlan

This letter is to welcome Emmy Callero into the fair trade artisan process.

Emmy was a distance volunteer for Natik a while back and recently contacted me. She wants to connect her new interior design/product design business with the artisans of Just Apparel. After our conversation (a few moments ago) it is clear she shares the “collaborative” middle name of all the rest of the Natik family, so I am pleased to introduce her.

Living in Portland, she will have direct access to a distinctive new market, which along with Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, and New York, will give us a better chance of competing with all the other artisan products out there.

On Go!


Emmy Callero
Small Business Owner, Former Volunteer
Portland, OR

Hello Sarah, Brittany, Roisin and Jenn~

I am excited and pleased to meet your virtual acquaintance! It looks like you have some great things in the works.

As Anita mentioned, I am in the process of pulling together a interior design/decorating business. My long-term vision is to become a social business by connecting my clients in the USA with fair trade home decor products in Latin America. To increase impact, I will start small, with the 1 village model, instead of a 10,000 village model.

I have informally begun to do a feasibility analysis and a little market research, but before I get too far, I wanted to touch base with you all to see if my business could complement your work.


brittany happy!

Brittany Burton
Volunteer and Former Natik Fellow
Denver, CO

Welcome to the team Emmy! I think I speak for all of us when I say that we are SO excited to have you on board!

I am still helping with the the delivery of our Guatemalan products, and this project sounds really interesting- I love the “one village” concept as opposed to the “10,000” villages. Keep me posted; I’m always available to brainstorm.

All the best!

Jenn Photo

Jenn Miller
New Natik Fellow
Chicago, IL

Hi everyone!

It is so nice to be introduced to all of you and begin to get up to speed on all of the work you’ve been doing with Just Apparel!

I am the next Natik fellow, and will be bridging the gap between the Just Apparel artisans [in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala] and our international contacts, like Emmy. I am eager to begin work on the ground this summer, but in the meantime, I’d love to be involved however I can. Reading the notes from your last meeting has revealed a lot already!

Best, Jenn

Roisin Atitlán

Roisin Duffy-Gideon
Board Member and Former Natik Fellow
New York, NY

It’s great to hear from you, Emmy and Jenn.  The opportunity to collaborate with such creative and passionate people is one of my favorite parts of working with Natik.

I was a Natik fellow in Chiapas from August 2012-May 2013. During those months, I did a variety of odd jobs, including setting up the Etsy shop and getting our e-commerce efforts off the ground in Chiapas. When I left, I committed to preserve the Chiapas side of the e-commerce endeavor.

I am already in contact with a designer in NYC who may be interested in working with us.

Best, Roisin


Sarah Mawhorter
Board Executive, Secretary
Los Angelos, CA

It seems like a meeting is in order!

I’m Sarah Mawhorter and I’ve been working with Natik and JA for a while now.  For this project, I will be marketing our custom products here in the States and work closely with Jenn when she arrives in Santiago to coordinate orders.

For the meeting, we can use a Doodle poll so we can figure out a time that works for us.  We’re all in different time zones, so check the time zone displayed when you log in to Doodle.

Hopefully, we can find some overlap…

Best, Sarah 

If you are interested in working with Just Apparel, please contact us!




Empowerment: What’s in a word?


Anita Smart has been the Executive Director of Natik since September 2010.

EMPOWERMENT is an over-used buzz word in the development community. The following is our attempt to undilute what empowerment means to us.

Education: teaching and learning are in everything we do.

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Movement: willing to step from our comfort zones.

Participation: active, collective engagement at every step

Organizational structure: supporting the unstructured, relationships that get things done.

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Work: doing what it takes.

Eloquence: finding creative ways to share our process with others.

Rigorous documentation: legal, fiscal, moral and ethical transparency.

Motivation: changing the status quo in the only real way.

Extraordinary Effort on Everyone’s behalf: we do the best we can, always.

Networking: we’re linked to other realities and other opportunities.

Talent:  we all contribute what we are good at and everyone wins!

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