The Rhein Neckar Zeitung Wrote An Article About Khoti!
By Inga Jahn in Heidelberg
"The wages are low and there is widespread discrimination against the indigenous people in his hometown. These issues really bother Samuel Gracida, from Mexico, especially because most people in his country “simply ignore them,” as he reported in an interview with RNZ.
Samuel decided to do something about it by selling hand-embroidered scarves. About three years ago, the current SRH student founded the project “Khoti.” However, the 22-year-old doesn’t view himself as a “savior.” Rather, “the 14 women involved in this project are helping themselves through their excellent work.” Khoti is simply a platform for them to earn a living using their own skills.
The name of the project, “Khoti,” means “embroidery” in Otomi, an indigenous language—and embroidery is a special skill these women possess. “The problem is that these women usually don’t speak Spanish, and can’t sell their wares for what they’re worth. They are in a vicious cycle of financial need and lack of education,” according to Gracida. As a child, he noticed the indigenous people who came from a village to his hometown Queretaro to sell their wares—especially scarves—often living on the streets.
Gracida and his family moved to China when he was 16. “Later, I moved to Ohio in the USA to study music,” he tells us. During his undergraduate studies, he realized he didn’t want to become a musician, but a therapist. Soon, he came to SRH Heidelberg University, where he is currently studying in the MA in Music Therapy.
Gracida developed the idea for “Khoti” on a visit to his family in Mexico during his studies in the USA. “Probably being abroad had an impact on how I looked at issues at home,” he reflected. He developed a plan with a friend familiar with the village, got acquainted with the villagers, and figured out where his idea of helping others help themselves could be useful.
It takes about 10 hours to produce a scarf. “If the scarf is sold cheaply, it bears no relation to the actual work involved in its production,” Gracida explains. “Khoti” sells the scarves not only in Mexico but also in Germany and the USA. “I have the feeling, especially here in Germany, that handmade items sell well because consumers appreciate quality,” Gracida reports. In Germany, a Khoti scarf costs 35 euros. “The women who make the scarves get 25 euros, and the rest covers the costs for organization and logistics.” The women making the scarves then earn an hourly wage of 2.50 Euros--a respectable wage in Mexico.
The project is only possible through donations on the internet. “Using the prize we won from SRH Heidelberg University helps us even further,” Gracida says proudly. The SRH recently awarded Khoti with a 1000-euro prize. Every order placed now helps the women to support themselves and their families. “Now the families can afford to send their children to school. We are doing our part to help them get out of the cycle of poverty.” Along with developing the Khoti project, Gracida and his team have the goal of bringing additional handmade products to market and getting them “fair trade” certified. Unfortunately, Gracida reports that “this is difficult without vendors of fair trade materials in Mexico.”
Use the link to order handmade scarves or to donate to the project."