Like many other women in Cajolá, Celia wasn’t able to continue her school studies past sixth grade. She married young and now her husband is in the United States. She has been busy raising 4 children, working hard to ensure that they get an opportunity to study. Before joining Mayamam Weavers, she sewed huipils and cortes (the traditional blouses and wrap skirts) at her home and sold them. She didn’t earn enough money to cover the costs of paying for food, clothing and her children studying.
After joining the cooperative as a seamstress just over three years ago, things have turned around for Celia. As a member of the cooperative, she took advantage of our scholarship program last year at the age of 36 and finished her middle school curriculum in adult school. Inspired by all her newly acquired skills in sewing – sewing on an industrial machine, putting in zippers, sewing curves – she decided to continue taking advantage of our scholarship program and is now studying Fashion Design at the technical school. She has been passionately sharing what she is learning with everyone, so it was an easy step to invite her to take on the role of New Product Development. This is the dream, to support education and then see it converted into professional work!
Now she earns enough that she doesn’t have to worry any more.
Celia’s dream is that one day her children will earn their diplomas and become professionals. If they succeed in achieving this goal, their work and their lives will be different and not as hard. Work that is available for those who don’t have an academic education is very difficult. It usually involves working in the fields planting and harvesting agricultural products. Celia’s youngest son, Melvin, is 18 years old and receiving a scholarship from Grupo Cajola to study law. This, of course, makes Celia very happy and has helped her economically as well. “To study here in Guatemala is very expensive and my four children were studying and there wasn’t enough money before to pay all their school expenses.”
Celia’s passion for her new skills and knowledge will impact our work at Mayamam Weavers. She can share new and better ways to do things and solidify our reputation for high quality products. Celia shared, “Besides being better economically, I have learned skills in sewing that I didn’t know. Before I only sewed huipils and neckpieces. This was always doing the same thing and also, sewing huipils that only need sewing on the two sides. Here (at Mayamam Weavers) we do many different designs of products and I am always learning new things. Here we sew products on industrial machines and that is another skill that I have learned here in my work.”
And now…the ripple effect begins. Celia is taking care of herself and her family and now she is busy thinking of ways to help Mayamam Weavers grow so that more people in her community can be employed.