Friendship Bridge client since 2012; part of Handmade by Friendship Bridge® since 2021

    A Maya T'zutujil woman, Manuela grew up with a father who worked as a day laborer and a mother who did domestic work and cared for her four children. The youngest, Manuela attended school through 4th grade, just like her older siblings. At 14, she started working as a housekeeper.

    The Artisan’s History
    Manuela learned the art of basket making decades ago from another woman in her community so she could earn extra income (she also raises poultry and sells vegetables). She gathers pine needles from the mountains near her home, then washes them and lays them out in the sun to dry. When they are completely dry, she weaves the pine needles into baskets, tying them tightly with sturdy thread.  

    The Friendship Bridge Impact

    Manuela was motivated to join a Friendship Bridge Trust Bank because it gave her access to small loans, monthly educational training and bi-monthly health care services. Her businesses developed well, and she was elected treasurer of her Trust Bank. In 2021, she joined Handmade by Friendship Bridge® to strengthen her artistic skills and knowledge. She’s also learned a lot about budgeting and customer service, and is relieved to know more about her physical health. She sees the positive impact of the program as it reaches other family members and communities: “I am achieving my goals because of my determination, my husband's support, and access to small loans. I am happy to have built a house made of blocks and metal sheeting. Our home has three rooms and a kitchen. I feel like a powerful woman!” 

    "My mother did not have the initiative to look for funds to develop herself as a small businesswoman,” Manuela says. “My goal has been to have a better and more prosperous life for myself and my children.”