Introducing One of our Madres on Mother's Day - Meet Elvia
Feliz dia de la mama!
In both Guatemala and the USA, Mother’s Day is a BIG deal. While Mother’s Day is the second Sunday of every May in the U.S., Guatemala celebrates mothers on May 10th every year regardless of the day of the week. The day begins before dawn with fireworks and loud music because why wouldn’t you?? Working mothers often get the day off to spend with friends or family and new mothers are showered with small gifts as they are welcomed to this phenomenal club. Just like in the U.S., mothers are honored during celebrations with lots of delicious food. In some places, as mothers spend time together, the eldest of the group shares some words of wisdom with the younger mothers, a proverbial toast of sorts.
This Mother’s Day, we thought it would be fun to introduce you to one of our favorite mamas, Elvia Lucas López who has been a seamstress in the cooperative since 2013. Before joining Mayamam Weavers, she took care of her family and would travel to the coast with her children to work during corn harvest seasons. Sadly, Elvia’s husband was killed in Mexico in the San Fernando massacre in 2011 as he was traveling to the U.S. At the time her youngest daughter was only 2 years old and her son was 11. In order to support them, Elvia traveled to the coast to work.
One day, a neighbor suggested she look for a job with Grupo Cajolá, the community organization that Mayamam Weavers works with. Elvia was worried that working outside of her house would be difficult while caring for her family. “I thought a lot about it because I didn’t know what I would do about feeding the kids and paying attention to them -- but I decided to come to work. At first, it wasn’t easy because I left my children alone. But little by little, I stopped crying and worrying so much.” Slowly Elvia adjusted to going to work every day and enjoyed working side by side and collaboratively with women like her who she could talk to, compare notes with and most importantly, laugh with.
“What changed my life was monthly earnings because I wasn’t worried anymore about where I would search for money for food and medicine for my children.” Elvia’s youngest daughter was often sick and had to be taken to the hospital. When they gave her a prescription for medicine, it was difficult to find the money to pay for the medicine. Once she started working for Mayamam Weavers, she earned enough money for all of her expense which included food, clothes, school and the medicine.
Because Elvia’s son felt the pressure to work to contribute to his family’s income, he only completed school through the sixth grade. Once Elvia joined the cooperative, she was able to study and to complete school through the 6th grade. She learned to speak Spanish which is necessary in Guatemala in order to read just about anything including signs and work orders. Elvia learned to sign her name was proud add her signature to the potable water project in her neighborhood several years back. Her children have benefited from the education programs including scholarships that pay for school and school expenses such as uniforms and school supplies.
Elvia is grateful for the opportunities at Mayamam Weavers and has really blossomed during her time with the cooperative. She has improved her sewing skills on the industrial sewing machine and enjoys acquiring new skills as the cooperative adds new products to their repertoire. She also currently serves as the assistant sales coordinator where she does a great job hosting customers and showing off the products made by the cooperative. Since being a mother is Elvia’s number one priority, she appreciates the job she has at Mayamam Weavers, the flexibility and the fact that she can afford to support her family.