A Story of Hard Work and Resilience

We want to introduce everyone to Santa Guachiac, the leader of the Pacutamá weaving cooperative and Board Member of our organization, Yabal Guatemala. Hear from her in her own words:

“Since I was a child, my mother, and my great grandmother, they know how to weave on the backstrap loom. That is their job, and they teach me how to do it. I started weaving when I was about 8 or 10 years old.

The most difficult thing for me was solid colors like “perrajes”, as we call them (shawls). Those were the hardest for me. When I was 12 years old, my mother taught me how to hand-embroider small animals, like birds, little lions, and cats, I really loved them! (Laughing) and then I started to weave huipiles and that’s when the work started.

Personally, it’s been hard because I have arthritis. There was a time when I got very sick. I was able to guide the group but I couldn´t weave and provide for my family. Now I’m able to do both. I visited physicians and look for different opinions on medical treatments, I don´t know what treatment worked. But it was very difficult.

Before, when we were still living in our old community (before it was destroyed by Hurricane Stan). Buyers would come looking for huipiles and belts. When we were done, they asked “how much is it?” we felt like we couldn’t tell them the real price of our weaving because they would never pay that amount.  They were paying what they wanted, we didn’t know that our work had a bigger value.

Since beginning the weaving cooperative with Yabal in 2008, there have been so many changes. We had never worked before with an institution or person, like Yabal, when we started, we didn’t even know how to do measurements, we made a lot of mistakes with the loom (laughing) but we’ve learned.

When someone comes to buy a woven item, I no longer accept whatever price, like back then. Now, we let people know that we value our time and work.

We also now value our women’s weaving work more in our community. Before, men didn’t know much about the weaving work we (women) do. Now, they do. They help around the house more.  We are the same: men and women. It is the same, the woman can do the work that the man does. And men can also do women’s work- they can wind thread for weaving, set up the temazcal (sweat lodge), they can sweep. There used to be more (domestic) violence, but not anymore. We have rights, we are the same, and we can do the job they do. But we have learned to help each other.

There are a lot of dreams, we women are trying to save some money. It’s not only for surviving and eat and eat and eat. Now, women can decide and think more about what they want to use their money for, can plan for the future. With my work, with my textiles, it’s a great job. And we want to do a lot more of it!

I like what I do, I’m a strong woman, a very hard worker and I work hard because I want to provide for my family and move forward in life.”

We are focused on women as the key to family development. Yabal provides workshops to assist in the success of each individual and family. These workshops focus on entrepreneurship, business administration, leadership, and advanced sewing courses. We are 100% committed to using fair trade and sustainable fashion to empower women in Guatemala.