San Antonio Aguas Calientes, Sacatepequez, Guatemala, is a traditional Mayan town just 11k from the very popular tourist city of Antigua. It is more common to see women and girls dressed in their traditional corte (skirt) and huipil (blouse) than in western attire. These traditional textiles are handwoven and recognizable worldwide.
Their economy is centered around the Antigua tourist trade, as well as casket making and ironwork. Typically, women earn incomes from doing laundry, cleaning, weaving, and tortilla making. Most, if they are lucky, have a six-grade education.
Our sewing program began as a group in 2017, and for most of the women, it was a new experience. Now they take great pride in producing well-made products in their colorful traditional fabrics that have been purchased from visitors all around the world.
Manos de Maya is supported by Creating Opportunites for Guatemalans.org, a registered charity in Canada, the United States, and Guatemala to raise people out of poverty through education.
Our Sewing Moms
My name is Aura, and I’ve been a widow for 11 years, one year after my youngest, Wilver, was born. I have 4 children, 2 girls, and 2 boys. My oldest is 21. I earn money by cleaning and weaving. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to go to school, and, therefore, I can’t read or write. I learned how to write my name when I started to sew. When I first started learning to sew, I was very timid and almost didn’t return after the first session, but I’m so glad I did! Now I have confidence and feel there are more things I can do to support my family.
Hello, I’m Alejandra and am 37 years old. I have two children, Jose (16) and Emily (5). My husband, Estraudo, works in a restaurant as a chef helper, but now the restaurants aren’t open. I like to make people laugh and have been called the comedian in our sewing group. I finished the sixth grade. I weave to earn extra income.
Hi! I’m Maribel and am 37 years old. My husband and I have 5 children, 3 boys, and 2 girls. My oldest is 17 and my two youngest are Melvin (9) and Edras (7). My husband is a farmer and handyman. I clean and sell my hand-made weaving to earn money. I finished 6th grade. Maya women are willing to work hard, but sometimes, there just aren’t enough opportunities. I am so very grateful to be a part of Manos de Maya!
Hello, my name is Aura. I’m 48 years old and have 5 children, all living at home. My youngest is Delmy who is 15 years old. She is being sponsored to attend the Antigua International School and wants to be a doctor. My husband works as a carpenter and handyman. I weave and sell “tipica” items in Antigua to tourists. While I only attended school through the second grade, I love learning! I especially like learning English so I can speak better with tourists.
My name is Martina and I am a single mom. I have four children, Dalyin (15), Fernando (11), Fernanda (6), and a newborn. After each of my children was born, my husband left. I’m very proud of Dalyin, who is a bright high school student and who helps me a lot. I earn a living by doing laundry and sometimes making tortillas. I was so nervous when I started sewing, always afraid of making a mistake. It’s not like that now, and I’ve come to rely on my sewing earnings. My favorite things to make are potholders. I have a second-grade education and am very proud that my children will grow to be educated adults.
Hi, I’m Gloria, and my son Carlos is 13. I’m 47 and a single mom. Carlos and I live with my mother and brother. My brother owns several fruit carts in Antigua, and I help him with the business. On weekends Carlos helps, too. It is hard being a single mom, and I am thankful for my family. I enjoy sewing and having the extra income helps a lot. With my earning from sewing I was able to buy my own sewing machine last year! I’m very grateful my son has the opportunity to get an education since I only went through second grade.
My name is Myra and I’m 37 years old. I learned to sew at the age of 18 to support my family. I enjoy sewing, and every day I learn more. My three children, Jeffry (21), Katherine (15), and Emmanuel (10), and I live with my mother. Jeffry is a chef who has worked at popular restaurants in Antigua and is now studying gastronomy at the university. Katherine wants to be a scientist, and Ema, well, it’s too early to know. I’m so very proud of my children and grateful for the support from Creating Opportunities for Guatemalans and the many people who have bought Manos de Maya products!