Lili Carmen has been weaving for as long as she can remember. Weaving threads into masterpieces brings her great pleasure: it relaxes her and reminds her how far she has come because of her weaving skills.
Life has been difficult for Lili. Because her family was so poor, she needed to work from a young age to help her family make ends meet which meant Lili was unable to attend school. She married young. Her husband left her on and off throughout their marriage. Lili had to be the breadwinner of her family and care for her three children mostly on her own.
Like most indigenous women, Lili leaned to weave from the time she was a little girl. And this has been her saving grace. Lili is a master weaver. Women seek her far and wide to commission her weavings. Lili has a MayaWorks’ microcredit loan to buy supplies and equipment to weave huipiles for other women. Huipiles are the bright woven shirts that indigenous Maya women wear. With the income she earns from weaving MayaWorks products and the huipiles she sells independently, Lili has purchased her own home, sent her three children to school and put food on the table everyday.
It hasn’t been easy for Lili but she stands strong knowing that she uses her skills to care for her family and make it on her own. And she is grateful that she always has access to a MayaWorks microcredit loan to take her to the next step in reaching economic stability.
By far MayaWorks grants more microloans for crop projects. The Maya live by the land. Subsistence farming is a traditional way of life for Maya families in Guatemala; however, more and more these days, Maya farmers are growing crops for export to the U.S. Three MayaWorks artisan partners have recently received loans of $500 each to buy plants for export crops.
These women, from Xetonox, a fertile valley of Tecpán, will plant green bean and blackberry plants, both of which are lucrative export crops, that is, if the weather cooperates. Too much rain ruins the plants and rainfall totals from recent years have proven that planting crops can be risky business. Average rainfall in Guatemala ranges from 60 to 100 inches per year. If a tropical storm system rolls in, the fate of crops is left to mother nature. And mother nature usually wins!
We're keeping our fingers crossed for a successful year because the women really love their crop projects. They proudly show off their fields when we come to visit.
Thanks to a MayaWorks micro-credit loan, Hilda Roquel's chicken project is going very well. Hilda requested a small loan to buy baby chicks that she will care for until they are ready to be sold in the market. She says it's a great project because it allows her to stay at home with her young daughter who is just two years old. Mother and daughter together look after the chicks who require a lot of attention! Hilda sees her micro-credit loan as a jumping off point. With the money she earns from selling the chickens, she will re-invest it in her small business to buy more chicks.
Hilda has been fortunate to attend school up to age 18. Her mother is a MayaWorks artisan partner. With the income she earned, she was able to send Hilda to school starting at the age of six. Hilda also contributed to her studies by working in her aunt and uncle's store. With her small earnings, she helped pay for school supplies.
Hilda is 100% committed to her daughter's education. She hopes to see her baby girl graduate college some day!
Margarita Yax Tucubal was born 56 years ago in a small village of Tecpán, Guatemala. She was one of seven children. Her family had very little money so, from early on in her life, she was expected to find work to help with the family expenses. At the age of eight, she left her family to work as a domestic in the home of a wealthier family in town. Margarita never attended a day of school.
At the age of 17, she fell in love and got married to a young farmer. He was a good provider for Margarita and their three children. They were very happy but their happiness wasn't to last. One afternoon, eight years into their marriage, soldiers came and draged her husband from their home. She looked all over for him and sadly, after two days, she found his remains. At 25, Margarita was a widow with three small children.
To make ends meet, Margarita crocheted sweaters, hats and scarves and sold them in her community. She also learned to weave. Soon women came to her to purchase her huipiles, the traditional brightly woven shirts worn by indigenous women in Guatemala. Within time she began to make products for MayaWorks and leaned to weave on a treadle foot loom with the help of MayaWorks trainings.
With a MayaWorks micro-loan, Margarita has purchased a sewing machine to expand the types of products she can sell. She has also purchased piglets that she cares for until they are ready to be sold at market for a very nice profit. Margarita is very diligent about paying back her loan and has had several MayaWorks micro-loans to date. She is an excellent example of how to manage a micro-loan for those young women who are just starting out on their income-generating projects.
MayaWorks is very proud of its loan recipients who make every effort to pay their microcredit loans on time!
This past month seven loan recipients finished paying off their income generating projects. Most of these loans were used to plant crops which yielded a very nice profit this year. Also, last month, MayaWorks awarded six new loans totaling just over $3,000. These loans will be used mainly for textile projects. Women will purchase thread and other equipment to make huipiles for sale to women in their communities. Huipiles are the beautifully woven shirts that indiginous women wear everyday.
Microcredit is one of the most effective tools to combat poverty in developing countries. It is especially effective in empowering women who often lack the employment history required by traditional lenders. Microcredit programs require much oversite, however. It is important to communicate regularly with loan recipients as well as provide ongoing training and development to ensure successful returns on investment.
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