19 Sep
  • By Theresa DeSouza
  • Cause in

Artisan Profile: Sonia

Artisan Profile: Sonia

Walk into UPAVIM’s handicraft area and you are instantly overcome by the bright colors of beads hanging from the walls and the spools of traditional cloth stacked on the shelves.  Sonia Reyes sits in the corner at her work table, surrounded by strips of recycled cans which she is cutting into Christmas ornaments. The shining intensity of the room’s materials is only matched by Sonia’s work ethic and quick wit. Her hands work with the speed and precision of a seasoned professional, and the dedication of a mother providing for her five children.

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Originally from Honduras, Sonia ended up in La Esperanza by what she says “is God’s will” when she was 18 years old. Her partner and father of her two children, Sandy and Carlos, had been killed. She left her children with family in Honduras to find opportunities in the United States. On her way through Guatemala, she was robbed of all of her possessions. She sought refuge in a Honduran couple’s home and began working at a t-shirt factory from 7 in the morning until 6 at night. She decided to settle in Guatemala and worked hard to bring her two children here. “I didn’t have any blankets or a bed, but at least I was saving money to bring my children to Guatemala.” During this time Sonia met her partner of 18 years and became pregnant with her third child Fernanda.

“When I went back to Honduras my Mom thought my brother was joking again about me coming back. All of my family thought I was dead.” Sonia brought her daughter Sandy back with her to Guatemala. Her son, Carlos was staying with the family of her deceased partner and she feared they would physically harm her if she tried to take him. “We lived in a very dangerous area. Everyone had a gun.” It took three years until Sonia was able to go back to Honduras again and take Carlos away in the middle of the night.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”1400″ align=”left” size=”medium”] Pregnant with her fourth child, Anderson, Sonia decided to ask for a job at UPAVIM because she could work from home and take care of her children. The first craft she was asked to make was a wreath of worry dolls. “At first the work was really hard because I didn’t know how to do it and I didn’t have the confidence to ask the other women for help. One day I just sat crying and crying over this wreath.” Another UPAVIMA approached her and taught her how to make the wreaths. She soon began to grow in confidence and her skill set blossomed. Sonia is now in charge of all handmade crafts at UPAVIM. Her creativity is instrumental in the design and development of new products and she is responsible for teaching other UPAVIMAs how to make new products. She has become one of the pillars of UPAVIM’s growth. She has found steady employment enabling her to send all her children to school and a community of women that give the support she was missing. She is an example of UPAVIM’s success.

“I am thankful to God and then UPAVIM. It is because of UPAVIM that I am alive. They have supported me, given me advice, scholarships for my children and medical care. They gave food to me and my children when I didn’t have enough money for a single tortilla.”