Merire Ngöbe fabric art project


Women face the daily challenge of being doubly-oppressed, both as Ngöbes and as women. The challenges they face are innumerable. They are poor, but often the family's only source of income (through crafts); girls are kept from going to school; nearly half the women are illiterate; wives are often abandoned and left with children, and domestic violence is common.


Merire Ngöbe

Merire Ngöbe (which means Ngöbe women) is the name of the "brand" that we propose to market in the United States and Canada. The crafts consist of fabric accessories that feature Ngöbe designs. This fabric art project is about empowering women to earn an income through a sustainable way-by finding markets for their crafts. This project has a triple impact on the community: 1. the women who produce the fabric crafts are paid a fair, living wage, much more than they usually get for their work. 2 & 3. we further mark up the crafts to serve as a joint fundraiser for both the women's group Red de Mujeres de Besiko(RMB or Network of Women of Besiko in English) and Medo to support its educational and sustainable development goals (but not the volunteers who are financially independent). The members of RMB make the crafts, and we find the markets. Membership in RMB is free and open to any woman living in the district of Besiko. In addition to this project, RMB has other women empowerment projects, such as educational seminars, a gardening initiative, and a support group.

The motif represented on this craft decorates the traditional dresses of Ngöbe women. This ancient design was inspired by the serpent, a mystical symbol and an adversary in daily life.

The crafts: belts, headbands, and arm bands/cuffs. uniquely made on shared old school (no electricity) sewing machines, carries the serpent motif that decorates the traditional dresses of the Ngöbe women.

These crafts are currently being sold at ZENCLAY, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA, on and soon in Montreal, Canada.


created by anna zaniewski for medo 2007