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Artisan Organization: Mayra Leticia Hernandez

Country: Guatemala

'My name is Mayra Leticia Hernández López. I was born on July 12, 1983, and I create textiles on a backstrap loom.

"I was born into a family of six children. When I was a little girl, my mother earned a living weaving on a backstrap loom and she taught me this craft when I was seven years old. When I was six, my father passed away, and my mother was very shaken up because she couldn't feed her children. I learned how to weave and I had to help out so that she could sell her weavings and we could continue to go to school.

"I remember that my first weaving was small. It had a quetzal design on it and the word 'Guatemala' on the top. As time went by, I learned to weave better and I began making the huipil blouses that are traditional in San Antonio. After that, I began weaving my own designs and I realized I really love what I do – weaving soothes me and brings me much peace. The textiles from this area of Guatemala are reversible; they don't have a front or back. I enjoy using lots of colors, bright colors. I buy dyed cotton for my weavings.

"We have been through difficult times in my home. Once, we all got sick at the same time and it was hard to earn money for food. Since childhood, I have had health problems, Yet through my illnesses, I have learned God has given me many opportunities in life and things always happen because he has a purpose for us.

"I've been weaving now since 1990, although I've also practiced other crafts. When I was 13, a lady gave me the opportunity to sell ceramics in her crafts shop, and then I started selling traditional clothing with another woman. That's when I discovered how much I like handicrafts, because you get to meet many people. After that, a couple I knew taught me to sell and how to talk to and treat tourists so that they buy my crafts.

"Because I'm an honest, hardworking, responsible woman, I always give my best effort to reach the goals I set. A year ago I was able to open a small shop where I sell everything my family and I weave. One day, when I have more time, I would really like to teach my nieces to weave.

"Apart from selling and weaving, I like to study and to spend time with friends and family. I love to cook. I enjoy learning something new and putting a lot of effort into doing so.

"I am grateful to Novica for showing the world our weavings, as we create them with great dedication.""