Friendship Bridge client for 13 years
Chichicastenango is a municipality in the department of Quiche; it is made up of 86 villages, one of them being Quiejel. This is where 41-year-old Yolanda is from. She is a married mother of two, ages 18 and 22.
Yolanda remembers a childhood that was filled with love and affection from her parents. Still, as she was the oldest child in the family, Yolanda had to work in agriculture and learn artisan work in order to support the family with additional income. She also helped with household chores and with taking care of her four sisters and brother. Yolanda grew up in a humble family, in a small home with adobe walls, a dirt floor, and a tile roof. Thanks to Yolanda's hard work, her siblings were able to receive a formal education.
Yolanda herself went through six years of formal education. At a very young age, she discovered her passion for textiles. At age seven, she was already starting to make her own designs. Because she was so young, she was not allowed to use fine threads, so instead, she collected other types of thread and made her own, unique products. Her mother taught her to weave on a backstrap loom, and Dominga continues to use this skill today as she weaves beautiful scarves and centerpieces, among other products. Some of Yolanda’s designs are offered not only in Guatemala, but in international markets, as well. Her weaving is inspired by nature and the experience of the indigenous community of Guatemala, she shares with us.
At 18, Yolanda decided to get married, and at 19 she had her first child. Yolanda has always supported her children's decisions, so when her son decided to abandon school after the sixth grade, she did not challenge him. Yolanda's daughter graduated with a diploma as a teacher.
Yolanda's dream was to be able to sell her products throughout the 22 departments of Guatemala as well as outside the country. She has achieved this goal, thanks to her determination and courage as well as her involvement in other textile and handicraft organizations. Ever since she became involved with Friendship Bridge 13 years ago, Yolanda has experienced increased empowerment. To this day, she has completed 28 loan cycles; these cycles have helped her grow her business and, as a result, she is able to give employment to 13 more women from her community to assist her.
Before joining Friendship Bridge, Yolanda had no knowledge of how to run her business correctly. Thus, she truly appreciates the training she has received on a variety of topics, especially the finance ones (e.g., planning, investing, budgeting, and saving). Now, Yolanda is managing her business more effectively. She has also received various educational trainings that have helped her learn her rights as a woman, and her self-esteem has increased.
Yola is an example to her four sisters and brother; they admire her for having grown her business so considerably. She joined Handmade by Friendship Bridge® four years ago, and through this involvement, she has increased her knowledge of product development. She makes sure she accounts for each investment in her budget, she pays special attention to the product quality, she has learned to combine the colors in her products according to the seasonal colors in the international market.... In sum, she has learned countless skills and tools which have enabled her to improve the quality of her products while effectively managing her finances.
Her talent and hard work enabled her to improve her products, and this was rewarded: Yolanda had the opportunity to travel to Taiwan three years ago for an international handicraft exhibition, supported by another organization she is a part of (agexport, or Guatemalan Exporters Association). It was a highly competitive spot: she was chosen out of 60 artisan women to go to Taiwan.
She brought huipiles (traditional Guatemalan blouses) like the ones she wears with her. People loved her textiles, and she sold many while there. It was a dream come true for Yolanda, as she was able to share knowledge with and get to know other artisan women, as well as learn about other cultures.
Yolanda has one daughter and one son.
Yolanda currently provides employment to 13 artisan women.