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Eladio Chiroy

Artisan Organization: Eladio Chiroy

Country: Guatemala

"I'm Eladio Chiroy Hernandez and I was born in Guatemala in 1942 as one of ten children. Because we were such a large family, we didn't have a lot of money, but my father began weaving on a traditional handloom and my mother sold his weavings door to door. They worked hard and, thank God, we never lacked an education or missed a meal.

"After finishing primary school, I began learning to weave. I became a teacher and sought to improve by working tirelessly until I achieved my dreams.

"I taught in public schools for 28 years and always set up one or two looms to teach young people how to weave. It was an honor for me to continue with this beautiful art that I learned from my father as a boy. I would dream about becoming like my father — a hardworking and enterprising man.

"I studied at the Universidad de San Carlos and earned a degree in middle school education so I could start teaching mathematics. At the same time, I also created apparel and accessories with handwoven fabrics.

"I designed fabrics, managed workshops and collected weavings from highland towns and villages throughout Western Guatemala for a shop owned by a foreign family.

"Someone once asked me, 'Why do you work for someone else if you have the power to be your own boss in your hands?'

After that, I became more interested in weaving.

"In 1990, I started my own workshop to create textiles for a large chain store. I created my own original designs and they sold well until another company took over and they greatly reduced their line of handicrafts. As a result, I lost many workers and it was difficult to find another market for my work. Now I'm starting over.

"I've visited all 339 municipalities in my beautiful country, learning about the culture, scenery and people, so I know Guatemala has an infinity of opportunities for growth. And what better than through our traditional crafts.

"You have opened up a big door of opportunity for me because I want to keep our Guatemalan weaving artistry from disappearing. Like other crafts, the textile arts enrich our culture.

"I plan to continue weaving for the rest of my life.""