Friendship Bridge client for 24 years
There is much admiration for the countless creative and incredibly talented artisan Mayan women in Guatemala. 39-year-old artisan and entrepreneur Olga feels thankful that she can put her talents to good use, making and selling beautiful handmade necklaces and earrings; in order to pave a more prosperous future for her two children, ages 15 and 20.
Olga lives in a village called Chaquijyá (translates to “water scarcity” in the Mayan language of Kakchiquel) in the department of Sololá. When she was ten, she would go with her father to cultivate corn and beans. In her spare time, Olga had to help her mother, who made beaded necklaces and earrings. To this day, Olga is thankful to her parents for instilling in her a strong work ethic and sense of responsibility. Olga was one of eight siblings, and due to limited economic resources in the family, only one of the children has been able to graduate from high school. The youngest child is still in school, but the others, including Olga, completed only six years of formal education.
At age 18, Olga got married, and she had her first child one year later. Her dream was to work together with her husband, making and selling handicrafts and together building a stable and good life for their family. But in 2006, when Olga was 24, her husband decided to migrate abroad, leaving her with the responsibility of her two children. This situation was very difficult for her, as her dream of working together with her husband was no longer feasible.
Olga had to figure out how she would support her children on her own. Together with her family, she started a handicraft business. They started by looking for wholesale customers and developing those relationships. It wasn't long before the business began to grow considerably. As a result, Olga now employs 25 people who support her with the production of beaded necklaces and earrings. Olga's perseverance and initiative have paid off, and she is proud to now be exporting her products to the United States, as well.
Six years ago, Olga joined Handmade by Friendship Bridge®. In this program, she has been able to learn new things. She has met other people and acquired new customers through the artisan fairs that Handmade by Friendship Bridge® has organized. The most memorable experience for Olga was when she had the opportunity to go to Antigua Guatemala for a trunk show put on by Handmade by Friendship Bridge®. She felt so proud, seeing people admiring and buying her products.
Since joining Friendship Bridge 24 years ago, Olga has grown her business significantly as well as received educational training that has been invaluable to her sense of empowerment and to her ability to improve the standard of living of her family.
Olga is raising her children on her own, and she is proud of them. Her oldest son, David, has already graduated as a chef, while her youngest son, Oliver, continues to study.
Olga has two sons.
Olga provides employment to 25 female artisans.