I grew up listening to my paternal grandparents speaking in Arabic—they were both born in Bethlehem, Alessandra emails me last fall. Then, at a very young age my dad took me to Jerusalem to visit close friends who lost everything after being forced to leave their home in Nicaragua—a Jewish family now in a kibutz. During the guerrilla war in Guatemala in the 80s, my family had to leave our home… my life has been shaped by conflict. Alessandra Zamora, once a part of the Guatemala's National Contemporary Dance Company, is still dancing between perilous points in the world, and doing so with grace and passion.
From her home in Guatemala City, where she founded boutique retail stores celebrating latin designers; where she designed maternity clothes celebrating a woman's sensual beauty in pregnancy; where she founded a school for special needs children when she couldn't find one to respond to her sons' needs—Alessandra continues to shepherd her work of twenty years. But she also dances between a spiritual home in Southern India and life with partner, Sam Gomez, in Charleston, often traveling the world for his government work supporting women's entrepreneurial efforts. Alessandra is light of foot, with a creative imagination to light the skies.
Imagine my delight when Alessandra reached out to Ibu, wanting to be of use. It didn't take me long to understand the breadth of her gifts and the integrity with which she employs them. Soon, Alessandra was sitting with our design team, pouring over beads and amulets in our studio. Sam was stopping by to schlep fresh supplies of beads with him on visits to Guatemala City.
In her search for women who possess jewelry-making skills and a need for work, Alessandra found the perfect fit an hour away in Antigua. There, she and Lucero began the hands-on work to craft new designs, making good use of Lucero's macramé skill to add interest and texture to the necklaces they have created together.
Alessandra laughs at the unlikely fusion of African beads with Latin techniques and artisans, but has already visited Ibu's Guatemalan partners to begin exciting design collaborations using local resources. Her ideas are endlessly original—and boundless, matched only by her energies in offering this gift to Ibu. And, I must say, her incredible glamour in modeling them for us!
Sam and Alessandra have become an important part of our Ibu community, translating for artisan partners at our Colombiana! event, discovering new cooperatives for Ibu in India and Rwanda as well as all across Latin America—bringing women from dire places into the world of one another, dancing with them between peril and hope.
All the best,