Friendship Bridge client since 2012; part of Handmade by Friendship Bridge® since 2018.

    Ruth is a K’iche Maya woman from Pamezabel, a rural community in Sololá. One of nine siblings, both her parents experienced serious health issues while she was young, which resulted in her moving in with her aunt. She traveled to Guatemala City at age 14 to find work; three of her siblings died at a young age while working in cotton and coffee fields in southern Guatemala. She has a second-grade education.

    The Artisan’s History
    Ruth learned to sew from her father, a tailor. His small business primarily sold children's jeans. He would buy large jeans from second-hand stores, then make smaller jeans out of the fabric. Ruth and her siblings were in charge of ripping the seams from used clothing, then their father would sew the pieces into repurposed items. As a family, they would travel together to the south coast of Guatemala to sell the items on the street, during market days, or door-to-door. Ruth also got a job helping a lady who owned a traditional clothing store at which she supported the production of blouses and aprons.

    The Friendship Bridge Impact
    When Ruth married, she and her husband moved back to Guatemala City to find more work. But when city living proved to be too expensive, they returned to their rural community. Ruth worked several jobs and began to work alongside her husband. She started receiving more orders for her unique textile designs, but did not have enough money for materials in order to fulfill the orders. She received a loan from Friendship Bridge to buy the necessary materials, and she now owns two sewing machines to support her business needs. She later joined Handmade by Friendship Bridge®, and says that training on budgeting has been particularly useful for her. Before training, she did not factor in time spent nor the amount of material used when deciding the prices of her products. Now, she sets fair prices and has passed her knowledge on to her young son, who plans to continue in the tailoring business.  Knowing that her four children are learning important skills makes Ruth both happy and proud.

    Ruth hopes to grow her business and to provide employment for people in her community. She wants to continually have more work and to support her family.