Friendship Bridge Client for 13 years.
The popular municipality of Chichicastenango, located in the department of Quiché and frequented by national and international tourists alike, is also the home of Tomasa. 35 years old, married and the mother of four children between the ages of 7 and 19, Tomasa is happy to live in a place like Chichicastenango; she mentions the abundance of fruits such as apples, plums, and peaches as one of the perks her town offers.
Throughout her childhood, Tomasa, the third of seven children, received a lot of support from her mother. She grew up with a lot of fear, sadness, and frustration, stemming from her father's alcoholism and from having to watch him frequently beat her mother. Her father's behavior - and the implications it had in their home - ended up prompting Tomasa to discontinue studies during her fifth year of schooling. Tomasa's mother dreamed of Tomasa graduating from high school. However, Tomasa saw just how much her mother was suffering in order to give her children everything that they needed, and this clarity led her to leave her studies so that she could help with housework.
Tomasa's mother was never happy by her father's side because of his alcohol-induced violence. He died of an illness called cirrhosis. Tomasa says the best inheritance she has received from her mother was the gift of learning to weave huipiles traditional to Chichicastenango. To this day, Tomasa finds this knowledge fulfilling; with it, she is able to give color and life to the traditional textiles, which she sells in a community market as well as delivers to others on request.
At the age of 16, Tomasa was very much in love and also hopeful that marriage would improve her living conditions. When she was 18, she became a mother. Ever since Tomasa got married, she has felt respected - both as a woman and as a wife - by her husband and has been able to participate in decision-making. Unfortunately, however, more than ten years ago, Tomasa's husband was diagnosed with diabetes. This illness prevented him from continuing his work as a day laborer and bricklayer. Over the years, the disease has worsened, and his health is now in a critical condition.
The related caregiving was the reason why Tomasa's older two daughters did not continue their studies - each completed six years of formal education. Even with economic hardships and additional expenses for her husband's medicines, Tomasa continues to support the study of her younger two children through the income she generates from her huipil textiles. Tomasa's children are currently very sad when they see their father's state of health; they do not know how much longer he will be with them. Thus, Tomasa is burdened not only by her economic uncertainty but also by seeing her husband suffer and witnessing the despair and sadness of her children.
Her need for economic support was what originally prompted Tomasa to go to Friendship Bridge, and Friendship Bridge has helped Tomasa grow her textile business for more than 13 years. The loans helped her keep her business afloat during especially trying times. To meet the demand of her customers, Tomasa works together with one employee as well as her eldest daughter. Tomasa weaves not only huipiles but also sashes and napkins.
Through her own life experiences, Tomasa learned the tremendous value of saving for any emergency. Through Friendship Bridge, she has learned how to use the internet both for purposes of marketing her textiles and promoting the use of medicinal plants. Tomasa is thankful for all that Friendship Bridge has given her - not just for the loans which inevitably helped her business survive, but also for the monthly educational trainings she receives which always leave her feeling empowered and inspired.
With Handmade by Friendship Bridge®, Tomasa has learned how to use a ruler to take measurements of her textiles, as well as how to establish prices for her products which are fair but which also allow her to make profits. Now she also knows her rights and obligations as a woman, wife, and mother. She has not only taken on a very important role as the provider of her home, but she also serves as an example for her daughters - an example of great perseverance and compassion in the face of adversity.
Despite the trials she and her family are facing today, Tomasa is committed to doing everything she can to improve the situation and to be there for her husband, who today more than ever needs love, patience, support, and understanding.
Tomasa has two daughters and two sons.
Tomasa currently employs two weavers.