Friendship Bridge client for ten years.
Peña Blanca is a small town in the department of Sololá. Here, the majority of the population work as day laborers to earn a living. Candelaria, currently 36, lived there until she was 34. She remembers her childhood in which she was raised with love and care by both her parents and grandparents. She is the fourth born of 11 children (five girls, six boys). Candelaria's father was always attentive to her and her other siblings. Candelaria's mother dedicated herself to the home as well as making the traditional textile blouses called huipiles, while her father worked as a bricklayer. Her parents worked hard so that they could provide for their 11 children. However, as is common in such large families, not all children were able to complete their schooling. Candelaria and her three older sisters were only able to complete between four and eight years of formal education. With much sacrifice, Candelaria's parents were able to afford a complete education for the remaining younger siblings.
With much sorrow, Candelaria shared with us that four months ago, her closest younger brother, Abelardo, passed away. Since childhood he suffered from epilepsy, which caused him to fall a lot, and unfortunately one of these falls ended up causing his death. Candelaria and her family, devastated, continue to grieve Abelardo's death. He dreamed of having his own family and continuing to work as an accountant.
At the age of 15, Candelaria dreamed of wearing a new traditional Guatemalan outfit. Her parents, however, were unable to fulfill that dream, as they simply did not have the money. Candelaria had to work on some of her neighbors' crops, receiving Q10 (approximately $1.30) a day. In that job, Candelaria learned to grow potatoes, onions, carrots, and radishes. When she turned 20, she decided to look for another job - she approached various businesses until she was finally hired at a tortilla factory. For Candelaria, this represented a great opportunity, as she was able to learn how to interact with the customers. Candelaria's work made it possible for her to support her parents with the household expenses and to support her younger siblings with their education. After a long day of work in the tortillería, Candelaria supported her mother with the chores of the home and with producing the textiles of traditional Guatemalan huipiles.
Candelaria’s fondest memory of her time in the tortilla factory is the day she met her boyfriend, who is now her husband. She married at the age of 34 and two years later had her first daughter, Vilma Leticia, who is now eight months old. Candelaria currently lives with her new husband’s family in a rural community called Monte Mercedes, in Sololá. Candelaria's husband is a bricklayer, while she dedicates her time to weaving huipiles and traditional napkins. For Candelaria, it is a new experience to live with her in-laws, as it is her mother-in-law who manages household spending.
Now that Candelaria is forming her own family, she longs to have her own house and to be able to provide for her daughter and for any children she may have in the future. That is her motivation - that is why she sets out every day to weave the colorful blouses and traditional napkins. The growth of her business has prompted Candelaria to hire three people from her community - including one of her sisters - to help her fulfill orders. Candelaria's goal is to grow her business and employ many more women. To supply the demand of her customers, Candelaria has set the goals of weaving one huipil per week and finishing the weaving of a traditional napkin every two or three days, depending on the size. On Tuesdays and Fridays, Candelaria visits one of Sololá's markets to deliver her traditional textiles to her regular customers.
Candelaria is very grateful to Friendship Bridge for allowing her to join the organization ten years ago - thanks to Friendship Bridge, she has become empowered and can better manage her business. She has learned to plan, budget, invest, and save with the profits of her business. Candelaria recommends Friendship Bridge to other women, as the financial capital (with its low interest rates on loans) is complemented by training and health services. Four years ago, Candelaria joined Handmade by Friendship Bridge®. Thanks to the multiple trainings she has received through this program, she is able to produce higher-quality products which she can export abroad. She has also learned how to use social media and now takes advantage of this tool to promote her traditional textiles through WhatsApp.
Currently, Candelaria's goal is to continue growing her business and generating additional income that will allow her to save enough to build her own house and become independent. She is excited, and her husband supports her in her pursuit of this goal, as well.
Candelaria has one baby daughter.
Candelaria currently employs three weavers.