Updated: Aug 11
In April, the Spanish IV class at Judah Christian School reached across the continent to the Central American community. The Pulsera Project became the arm that crossed the border.
The Pulsera Project is a way to support and connect with Central American artists in Guatemala and Nicaragua. “Pulsera” is the Spanish term for bracelet, which Guatemalan and Nicaraguan artisans make with intricate patterns and vibrant colors. Each purchase of these unique, handmade items helps to provide fair-trade jobs for around 200 artists — giving them a way to escape the poor working conditions and extremely low pay that they would have to turn to otherwise.
How did Judah come to embrace this transcontinental project?
The idea started with a book: Esperanza by Carol Gaab. Mrs. Haegele, commonly called Maestra by her students, introduced the book to her Spanish class as insight into the very real hardship of people in Central America. Throughout their time reading the true story, the Spanish IV seniors planned how they could throw their support behind these people. Maestra said, “While we were learning about Guatemala, we prayed that we would find a service project to help. So everyone researched and tried to find a project. Mine, I found through a teacher group.”
After a class discussion about all the projects, a decision was made. The Pulsera Project was selected to be the recipient of their support, along with the organization Food for the Poor, which provides food, housing, healthcare, education, fresh water, emergency relief, and microenterprise solutions in Jesus’s name to people living in extreme poverty in the Caribbean and Latin America.
This mission felt natural to Maestra not only because of her background with Latin America, but also because of her heart. “All of my teaching experiences have been, up until now, with immigrants, especially with children who are immigrants,” she said, talking of her bilingual education. “And so, I have a really big heart for that, because the Lord has shown me how there’s a need for someone to kind of walk between two cultures and bring more people into that space. We don’t have to be in just one culture; we can be in two cultures at once.”
The Spanish IV seniors chose this project to not only support the people making the beautiful bracelets, but also to raise awareness about the unjust treatment of these workers. While reading Esperanza, they learned about the wage these workers must live off. Maestra spoke on this, saying, “Workers in Guatemala can usually, after a hard day’s labor, make three dollars. So, the difference is in what we expect and our privilege in the United States. We’re like, ‘We want fifteen dollars an hour,’ for what’s not very difficult labor. So American companies set up sweatshops in places like Guatemala, where there aren’t a lot of choices.”
The Pulsera Project also allows people in the United States to have a personal tie to the Guatemalan and Nicaraguan artisans, which was another reason this project seemed perfect. “What I really appreciate about it,” said Maestra, “is that it seeks to not only help us connect with another culture and see them as people, but also to reflect on ourselves and how what we do impacts their opportunities and abilities.” The beautiful woven threads are a continual reminder to always look out for the people across the world.
Connecting with the Pulsera Project was fairly easy, and soon, boxes of handmade bracelets were shipped to Judah. The Spanish IV seniors’ goal was to sell one hundred of the bracelets at the price of seven dollars. In total, the Spanish IV seniors sold 164 bracelets, along with 11 handmade bags, raising $1,313 for Central American workers. In addition, the Spanish IV class raised $211 to donate to Food for the Poor.
With this money, our friends in Central America and elsewhere will have just a little more of the economic independence that all people deserve. We are praying for the day when this support will no longer be needed, and they will have the freedom to sustain themselves.
— Hannah Jackson, class of '24