I want a better future for Carlita, I want her to be a professional woman.
October is a busy month! The first of October marks ‘Children’s Day’ here in Guatemala and the 11th ‘International Girls Day’ as well as Fair Trade month. In 2012, according to UNFPA, an organisation dedicated to promoting human rights for men, women and children, Guatemala had the highest rate of births among the under 15’s and that in general Latin America and the Caribbean are the only regions where this statistic continues to rise. At Trama, one of the key principles is to change the future for Guatemalan women. By creating work and paying fair wages, the cooperative hopes that the next generation will be better educated and able to disrupt this phenomenon. With this thought in mind, we decided to talk to Carla Belinda Isabel Panjoj Chopen, known as Carlita, the daughter of Oralia (the vice president of Trama) about her perspective on weaving, Trama and school!
Carlita, who is nine, can weave scarves having been taught by her mum, but when I ask if she likes the craft, she says: “More or less!” However, I suspect she might enjoy it more than she lets on as she shares with me that in her spare time when she doesn’t have to do her homework, she plays and weaves, which I am pretty sure is not the average response of most kids at the age of nine!
I was keen to find out what her perspective is of Trama and how she views the work her mother does. Carlita tells me without hesitation, that it is an association of women who weave and she says: “it is important for women to earn money to look after their children.”
I ask about her favourite colour. “Pink!” she says and preferred products?:”I like the lilac Ipad cases, the brown and white pillow case and the natural dye scarves.” I ask Carlita which one product she would make in Trama: “I like huipiles, they have lots of figures and pretty colours.”
When I ask Carlita what she’d like to do when she’s older. she’s also very sure: “I want to be a teacher, to teach kids how to learn things”. She likes technology at school. “Because it’s fun and I learnt how to write on word and draw pictures in Paint.” She only has these classes on Wednesdays but overall she really seems to enjoy school: “I like learning how to weave and playing with my friends’’. She also told me that even though tomorrow she doesn’t have classes, as there is one of the many celebrations here in Xela, she would prefer to be at school!
Turning to her mum, Oralia, to ask about what she envisions for her daughter, her hopes and dreams for Carlita.
“A better future. I want her to be well educated and have a profession. I would like her to be able to help different communities in Guatemala. It would be great for her to be the next vice president of Trama Textiles, to help the women or perhaps in another profession. I would like her to go to university, there are many things she could study, but I want her to have a professional career and get married later.”
Outside of Trama, I ask Oralia what she would like her daughter to be: “A doctor. In many of the communities we don’t have much medical care, so it would be great if she could help in that way.” I mention that Carlita has told me she could like to be a teacher, so what does she think about this profession?
“Ah yes, she has always told me that she wants to be a teacher! For small children. That too would be great.”
When I ask: “What do you think is important for her to study in school right now?” Oralia is very clear. “I would like her to learn languages. The most spoken Mayan language here is Kiche. This is what I think is important for her to learn so she can communicate with lots of people here.”
The future for Carlita looks bright, be it working in Trama or studying to be a doctor. There is hope – as Carlita goes on to teach her children the same values and ideals that Oralia is imparting to her – that things can change for the next generation of Guatemalan women.