Guatemalan Women's Cross Generational Development

May 15, 2012

Proud to be Self-Sufficient

Maria Teresa and her mother
Maria Teresa and her mother

María Teresa Chipix was born in 1965 in San Juan Comalapa in the highlands of Chimaltenango, Guatemala.  She is the second oldest daughter of eight children.  When she was a child, it was rare to educate a daughter so María Teresa never knew what it was like to attend school.  She grew up not  knowing how to read or write.

At an early age she left her parents to work as a domestic in the homes of wealthy people.  She cleaned their homes and cared for their children.  This work did not provide much income so María Teresa began creating handicrafts to sell to the tourist market.  She learned to weave very quickly on a treadle foot loom and also learned to sew.  With her earnings, María Teresa bought a more sophisticated sewing machine which allowed her to make more complicated products.

When she was 25 years old, María Teresa realized it was important to know how to read and write so she enrolled in literacy classes in Comalapa and, within one year, she was reading at a sixth grade level.  At the same time she was looking for opportunities to expand her handicraft work so that she could make more money to support herself and her parents.

María Teresa joined MayaWorks’ Chixot group.  Chixot makes very high quality finished products such as the MayaWorks yoga mat bag and the Florecita baby booties.  With her income from MayaWorks, she’s been able to build a small home on a plot of land given to her by her parents.  As a single woman, she is grateful to have an income that allows her to support herself and her parents.  It makes her happy that she has been able to do this by herself and to secure her future on her own.  Her goal for this year is to purchase a gas stove!

Maria Teresa sews a yoga mat bag.
Maria Teresa sews a yoga mat bag.



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Berwyn, IL, United States

Project Leader

Jeannie Balanda

Executive Director
Chicago, Illinois United States

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