Andrea lives in the village of Chacaya, which sits on the far outskirts of Santiago. Left by her husband, she is the mother of four and also cares for two orphaned children. Even though she has trouble with her eyesight, she is very skilled at embroidery. Before Just Apparel, she was lucky to earn only a few dollars per week for her work. Andrea is 45 years old.
Juana, 41, is Andrea Chiyal’s younger sister. She lives close by Andrea in Chacaya. Juana’s husband left her and her two children. One of her sons has left the house, but she still lives with her 17-year-old son, and she helps Andrea care for two young orphans.
Concepción lives in the village of Chacaya on the outskirts of Santiago. She is 34 and has two children (aged 17 and nine). Her husband, who struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction, had an affair before he died two years ago. He left the family with a large debt that Concepción was forced to repay. Before Just Apparel, she worked 13-hour days doing beadwork for less than U.S. $1 per day to earn money for her family.
Margarita is 39 years old, and she lives in Chacaya. She has seven children and two grandchildren. Her oldest children and her husband all work as farmers, earning U.S. $2-3 a day. They were never able attend school because they need to work every day in order to be able to put food on the table for their family. Margarita explains, “I am content, because with Just Apparel, there is pay. This means food, happiness, and laughter for my children.”
María lived with her sister Juana and five of her seven siblings in Panabaj until her recent marriage. She was divorced from her first husband, who left her. She now lives with her new husband and son, who is a year and a half old. Her husband is a farmer and earns U.S. $3-4 per day, and when he isn’t able to get agricultural work he chops and sells firewood. She is 34 years old.
Juana is María’s 31-year-old sister and is one of eight children in the family. She lives with her mother, five of her siblings and several cousins in a family compound in Panabaj on the outskirts of Santiago. She is single. To subsidize her family’s income before Just Apparel, she was working for less than U.S. $0.65 per day making beaded bags.
Concepción is 37 years old. She lives in Chuk Muk, the new housing development outside of Santiago that was built for victims of the mudslide. She has one daughter who is four months old, and her husband is a farmer. She had been living on about U.S. $10 per month doing embroidery work.
Luisa is Concepcion’s 44-year-old sister. She is the mother of six children; she has two daughters and four sons. Her husband occasionally finds manual labor work in Guatemala City, and Luisa sometimes gets paid for creating new beadwork designs. Luisa and her family are also victims of the mudslide, and after three years of living in a dug-out house, they now live in the new government housing in Chuk Muk.
Andrea is 40 years old and lives in Chacaya with her husband and two daughters, aged four and six months old. When she was a child, her mother passed away of an unknown illness. Later, in her teens, when her sister died in childbirth, she was forced to give up her nephew to a distant relative. Her husband is a farmer and she works in beadwork and embroidery.
Candelaria, also known as Cande, is 31 years old. She is single and lives in Chuk Muk with her elderly mother. The military murdered her father as he worked in the countryside near Santiago during the Guatemalan Civil War, and her older siblings left to find work on the coast. In 2006 she and her mother endured the loss of Candy’s disabled brother, who never recovered from the trauma he suffered during the October 2005 mudslide. Cande is a talented at embroidery and beadwork, as she has worked with handicraft since she was a young girl.
Natalia is 28 years old and lives in Chuk Muk with her six siblings and her father. She is single and without children, but she helps provide for her family by working in embroidery.
Carmen is a widow and the mother of three children. Her two youngest children are in school. Her oldest child was in a severe accident while working cutting firewood; he fell out of a tree and had to be hospitalized in Guatemala City. Now he stays at home and helps his mother care for his siblings. She says that the extra income from Just Apparel allows her kids to focus more on their studies and less on putting food on the table. She is 45-years-old and lives in Chuk Muk.
Candelaria is 28 years old and lives in Chuk Muk. Although she is single, she has helped her parents care for her nieces since her sister passed away following an undiagnosed illness. Candelaria’s father, now old and frail, still works as he always has carrying firewood from the mountains to the town of Santiago, but he does not earn enough income to support his wife, children, and orphaned grandchildren. To help her family, Candelaria has worked with handicraft since she was a young girl.
Petronila is 26 years old and moved to the Chuk Muk housing development after she lost her home in the mudslide. Her husband works driving a tuk tuk, the three wheel taxis that are a major form of transportation in Santiago. She has three children, and works in embroidery in order to be able to send her children to school.
Concepción is a 34-year-old mother of three. She works designing beadwork to be able to send her children to school. Her father was kidnapped and presumably killed during Guatemala’s civil war. She lives in Chuk Muk next to her mother, Juana.
Juana is a 52-year-old mother of four and a widow from Guatemala’s civil war. Her husband disappeared while on his way to work and is presumed to have been assassinated by the Guatemalan military. A year later, her father suffered the same fate. She lost her home in the October 2005 mudslide that destroyed Panabaj, and she now lives next door to her daughter Concepción in Chuk Muk.
Micaela is 30 years old and lives in Chuk Muk. She and her husband have four children, three of whom are still in school. Her husband works cutting and selling firewood, and she does beadwork and embroidery to support her family.
Josefa is 36 years old and single. She is the caretaker of her elderly parents, who still go every day to the mountainside to bring back wood to sell. “Sometimes my parents get sick,” she says, “and I am responsible to provide for them, but Just Apparel will give me advance pay in these kinds of tough times.” Before she began working with Just Apparel, she often only made less than U.S. $5 a week.
Elena is 33 years old and has one daughter. Elena’s first husband was an abusive man with substance abuse problems. Her current husband collects wood to earn a small amount each day. Elena lives with her family in Chuk Muk.
Concepeción is 24 years old and single. Her family also lost their house in Hurricane Stan but began living in a rented space, causing her father to accumulate massive debt. The father recently died of an unknown illness, and the family has suffered with a significant amount of debt in addition to the daily struggles of earning enough simply to feed and clothe the family. Concepción lives with her mother and brother in Chuk Muk.
Josefa is the 44-year-old mother of six children. The oldest children work in the fields or in handicraft, and the youngest are in school. The family lives in Chacaya on the far outskirts of Santiago.
María is a 31-year-old single mother. She and her 13-year-old son live in Panabaj.
María is 37 years old with four kids. One of her children was trapped in the mud when their house was destroyed and couldn’t be saved. She worries about providing for her remaining children because of the increasingly high food prices and her desire for them to go to school.