During our visit to Monteverde our guide, Marisela took us to CASEM: Committee of Artisans of Santa Elena. This organization was created in 1981 by eight women whose goal was to create a center for women who could sell their work that they created from home in order to help the advancement of Monteverde. Since its creation in 1981 the organization has grown from 8 women to 94 artists 3 of them being men. It has allowed the women and the community as a whole to grow ecologically, socially and economically.
Visiting CASEM was my favorite thing to experience during my weekend in Monteverde for several reasons. I was ecstatic to hear that this organization was started by women for women. Although, they have allowed for men to participate it is dominated by women. Women empowerment is extremely important all around the world, but to see that this organization has flourished in a sexist culture warms my heart.
I was able to walk around the center and explore all the art that these amazing people created. There were a wide range of creations from lanyards and pins to handmade jewelry and crafts from nature itself. My all time favorite treasure that I purchased was a picture frame of a hummingbird cut-out which contained real butterfly wings from a plethora of beautiful wings. Part of the beauty of CASEM is that with every purchase comes a story, the artist’s story.
Maritza Esquivel Villegas is 56 years old. She joined CASEM in 2015 in order to earn a little more for her family. She was raised by her loving parents who were farmers and now lives in Monteverde near her 4 children. CASEM has transformed into a family for her and she enjoys using nature and recycled items to make her art. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity of visiting CASEM and learn about the beautiful work they are doing and the amount of womxn they are supporting.