Martha Carmen

Martha Carmen

Friendship Bridge client since 2019; part of Handmade by Friendship Bridge® since 2022

Martha Carmen grew up in a family of 12 children—only eight of whom survived to adulthood—in Santa Catarina Palopo, a rural artisan village on the shores of Lake Atitlan. Due to limited finances, she only completed two primary grades at age 16.

The Artisan’s History
When Martha Carmen was still too young to weave using real thread, she and her sisters practiced weaving using thin strips of Izote (yucca) leaves. She helped her mother weave textiles from a young age as well as create new products like beaded bracelets.  She and her siblings served as street vendors, selling the family’s products in their village. Right after she got married at 17, she started a small handicraft business of her own.

The Friendship Bridge Impact

Through Friendship Bridge, Martha Carmen has learned that when her business struggles, she can evaluate other areas of opportunity to make it successful again. She’s also enjoyed learning about women’s rights and self-esteem. Her business has allowed her to improve her home and she feels more empowered to be an example for her children. The income from her business has made it possible for two of her children to finish high school so far.


Martha Carmen dreams of displaying her products in a store in her community where she can attract more customers. She also hopes to export various types of her products.