Posted on 07 April 2017
Our beloved artisan partner Micaela Damián (shown above with her proud parents) just graduated from elementary school at the end of October 2016. It’s a cause for great joy and celebration at Mayan Hands. We spoke about Micaela in a previous blog post when she told us why she decided to start school at age 33.
"… when I was in the Mayan Hands office and we had to create an invoice, I couldn’t do it. I thought to myself, this has to stop, now. I need to learn to read and write!"
Micaela, like most Mayan girls, grew up in a country that discriminates against Mayan people in general, and, even more, against Mayan women. Poverty rules their lives. The women eke out of living from selling their weavings but they can’t earn enough to transcend their poverty. There are few opportunities for them to get an education or start a business. Micaela is a superb backstrap loom weaver and Mayan Hands has been buying Micaela’s weavings for over 15 years, as well as providing her and her cooperative with workshops to learn new skills and scholarships to attend school.
After initially enrolling in first grade and attending school at night, Micaela is proud to have finished sixth grade in just 3 years. She is delighted to be able to read and write and speak Spanish, and amazed at how much she learned. She wants to continue her studies. As she moves along through middle school and high school, she will assess her strengths and decide what track to follow in her last 3 years. In Guatemala, students can choose among many high school paths, such as accounting, teaching, nursing, computers, etc). Micaela will now attend school on the weekends and will be able to continue to weave for Mayan Hands to support her family.
We are so inspired by Micaela and grateful to her for sharing her story and passion for earning with the younger women in her community. She, in turn, thanks all the donors who support the scholarships that make it possible for women and girls like her to access the opportunities that an education brings.
Be sure to check out the new Micaela Clutch that bears her name.