Friendship Bridge client for eight years.
One of the most visited tourist places in the department of Sololá is San Juan La Laguna, a town renowned for its scenery and stunning Guatemalan art galleries. It is a wonderful place, located on the shore of Lake Atitlán and thereby in close proximity to various other towns, each with their own unique charm. Dominga, 44, is proud to live in this stunning place. She is a Tz'utujil Mayan woman who grew up as one of nine siblings (five brothers, three sisters); she was the fifth born.
Dominga was only able to study for two years at a school in her community; neither she nor her siblings completed school due to their parents not being able to afford it. This is often the reality for big families. Instead of attending, the children were sent to work from a very young age. Dominga recalls that her father took her brothers to grow and harvest coffee; the women, including Dominga, stayed at home doing household chores and supporting their mother in the weaving of textiles for shawls and traditional huipiles.
When she was16, Dominga's father passed away. She remembers this tragedy with much sadness; not having her father around was very hard for her, especially as she was so young. Dominga's mother had to be strong, and she continued raising her nine children, supporting the family by selling traditional Guatemalan huipiles and shawls which they wove together daily.
About 17 years ago, tragedy struck again with the unexpected death of one of Dominga's sisters, who passed away during childbirth as, at that time, there were no clinics near where they lived. Four years ago, Dominga lost another one of her siblings to an unknown illness. Dominga is left with the memories of these beloved siblings and her father.
Dominga got married when she was 18, and she had her first child when she was 20 (after initially having difficulties conceiving). She is the mother of five children between the ages of 18 and 24; all have already completed high school. Dominga values the support her husband gives her through the income he receives from his masonry work. He is well-known in his community for his work, and Dominga the talented weaver; together, they make a good team.
Dominga is so grateful to her mother for having taught her how to weave during her childhood. Over the years, Dominga has gotten better and better with the backstrap loom, and she is proud of her textiles and their impressive color combinations. To ensure she can keep up with demand, Dominga has the support of two of her sisters; together, they create colorful, innovative, and high-quality textiles of which they are proud.
Dominga first joined Friendship Bridge approximately eight years ago and is very pleased that she made that decision. She recalls that her first loan amounted to Q5,000. Upon receiving the money, she traveled to a municipality in the department of Quetzaltenango, called Salcajá, and bought a large number of threads of various colors. The empowerment as well as business growth that Dominga has achieved is thanks to the loans, to the Non-Formal Education, and to the Health for Life services of Friendship Bridge, she says. She values what she has learned in Handmade by Friendship Bridge, too, as she now knows how to budget for her business, properly assign a price to her textiles, and make use of technology to promote her products.
Dominga has one daughter and four sons.
Dominga currently employs two weavers who help her fulfill her orders.