Beyond limitations: A Guatemalan business venture is opening doors for people with disabilities.

In Guatemala, life for people with disabilities includes stigma and incredible isolation. Many never leave their homes, due to a lack of public services such as education and transportation.

So, when Annie Jameson ’14 and her colleagues launched Edén Por Salud — a business that employs young adults with disabilities to make all-natural wellness products — in Antigua, Guatemala, they ran into opposition.

Jameson and her colleagues found themselves almost pleading with families to allow their adult children to participate. “Why would you ever want him?” a parent asked. “He can’t talk. He can’t walk. He can’t do anything.”

But Jameson and her two cofounders persisted. Today, that same young adult whose parents saw him as only a burden now helps to support his family with his earnings.

Edén Por Salud also fosters community and dismantles stigma, one quality product, and one young adult at a time.

An early sense of calling

Jameson’s passion started in her high school years. She sought out relationships with people living with disabilities because she felt a deep connectedness to them. She went on to earn a degree in special education from Seattle Pacific University and then dove into teaching.

After three years teaching in Seattle, Jameson took a leave of absence to travel to Guatemala to strengthen her Spanish, hoping to better support Spanish-speaking students and teachers. She enrolled in a Guatemalan language school and also volunteered at Viamistad, a camp for adults with disabilities.

Although she returned to the Seattle public school system, Jameson traveled to Guatemala again in September 2019. “I had every intention of returning to my job,” she said. “But that’s not how things shook out.”

She’d come to realize how the disabled in Guatemala needed far more than one week of camp. They needed self-supporting, dignified work. In October 2019,display of wellness products on a wood stand along with two friends she met at the initial camp, Jameson cofounded Edén Por Salud, a company that makes all-natural wellness products. “At Edén, we create jobs to meet the person’s abilities,” Jameson said.

Top products include candles and roll-on oils that use organic essential oils and local ingredients to support wellness and pain management.

Since 2019, the team has grown to nine entrepreneurs, ages 18 to 35, who receive 100 percent of the profit.

As a community, Edén Por Salud creates joy and dignity in addition to quality products. “Everyone has God-given talents and skills,” Jameson said. “Being able to work and give back to your community, to your family, is important for self-esteem.”

Overcoming stigmas

Not only are more families seeing the benefits for their young adult children, but more businesses are also coming around to the idea that people with disabilities can be contributing members of society.

people with disabilities eating at an outdoor tableIn the beginning, the limited visibility of people with disabilities simply bred prejudice, Jameson said. Some local store owners told the cofounders, “We can’t carry your product because we don’t trust the quality; because they’re made by people with disabilities, they might not be hygienic.”

“As our name is becoming more recognized, we’ve overcome that hurdle,” Jameson said.

The company currently sells 13 different products in 15 stores as well as online. They’re also expanding — building a large workshop to allow them to employ more young adults and host events for the community.

Jameson still hears comments about how sacrificial she is and what a challenging path she has chosen. “I simply say, ‘It’s not challenging.’ That thinking is rooted in deep ableism in our society — to assume that someone with a disability must be more of a burden. This is what I enjoy, and it’s where I find my community.”


Annie standing in a field of flowers with her fiance RodolfoAnnie Jameson is engaged to marry Rodolfo, a cofounder of Edén Por Salud. The two are planning a wedding for March 2024.


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