It was Benita who approached Vey, her neighbor and friend of seven years, asking her to buy huipiles (traditional blouses) when she and the other women dared to return to Chuinimachicaj in 1984 after the village was safe from violence. And it was Benita who helped Vey establish the first weavers' group.



Fourteen widowed weavers elected Benita their leader. But being the leader was simply a necessity; the accomplishment that made Benita proudest was being able to earn money. "The weaving has been a big help in the village's recovery. It has helped me. I haven't had anything else," Benita tells us. "In the beginning, we were all sad. It helped us to know we were part of a group. We each worked in our own house, but felt we belonged to something."

return to top

Albertina began to weave when she was seven, learning on a child-size backstrap loom. She graduated to a grown-up loom when she was ten. "I felt very happy at that point because then I could earn some money." Her first sale netted thirty-two cents, which was enough to buy ribbons to braid into her hair.

Education is important to this family, in a country where fifty-five percent of the population is illiterate.
  Albertina's father joins us and describes going to night school as an adult and learning ("slightly") how to read and write. Her mother says she could never catch on. Albertina finished the second year of high school, where her favorite subjects were mathematics and language.

"School expenses are thirteen dollars a month. I can barely give the children money for anything except school," she acknowledges, but reports proudly that her four children are all in primary school.
Buy In Her Hands