Artisan Organization: Mirian Otzin
Country: Central America
"I was born in a beautiful Maya village where we speak Kaqchiquel rather than Spanish. When I was born, my dad wasn't there and, when he arrived, everyone was scared to tell him his wife had given birth to a girl. See, his father had only wanted boys, never girls, and everyone thought he'd be the same. So when they took him to see me, he just picked me up in his loving arms and everyone realized dad was simply not like my grandfather!
"I was a very fortunate little girl because my parents let me go to school ‚Äì not many girls were allowed to go and many of my relatives disapproved of me going to school.
"Mother contributed to the family finances by weaving, and my four siblings and I helped her out in the afternoons, when we got back from school. That's how I began to weave when I was eight years old ‚Äì the first thing I wove was a napkin! In fact that's what many mothers taught their daughters to weave because it isn't regarded as an 'important' thing and mistakes can hardly be noticed. However I was so very proud of what I had done I kept showing it off every time we had visitors.
"Then I worked on a huipil blouse and I wore it out so much it became unwearable. And so I continued to weave, turning this art form into my life. I love this art because it represents my past and my present. Through our textiles, we communicate our cultural values. I love to weave because it also represents the work of many women who use it to express themselves.
"Preserving this beautiful artistic tradition has become a challenge since young women don't seem to be interested in weaving, so we need to promote it or else it will die out.
"My identity is woven into this art and I love it. I feel accomplished when I help others to weave, let them preserve their own identity in their themes, as well as find a way to earn and provide for their families.
"For 16 years, I worked for an organization that supported women weavers and, in 2012, I began working on my own ‚Äì it's not been easy, it's a challenge. But it comes with many rewards.
"Every design I make tells a story, and it's about our ancestors. It tells of our traditions and customs. Then we all weave together. I love it when we all share ideas and develop our own creativity.
"I dream of having my own workshop and that it's so big that we can offer work to many women, and that my children learn this lesson ‚Äì always share the best of you. I hope to see more families reintegrate and I can contribute to this by creating jobs so people don't have to emigrate.
"Many thanks to all of you for selecting our work. Each represents an opportunity to improve our lives.""