"When people hear about us, they usually associate us with garbage. But when they see our work, our jewelry, they are marveled by what we can do with what they believe is waste."
"Hello friends from the world! Thank you for your interest in our story and what we do. We're a group of mothers living near a dump site in Guatemala City, and our main activity used to be collecting recyclable materials to sell them. There are many impoverished communities in our country, and we all grew up in one of them. We've been recycling since we were little girls, and we only did it to earn a bit of money.
"It all began in 2008, with a literacy program aimed at young women and sponsored by a volunteer association. Classes included mathematics and Spanish language, and during one of these classes we started talking about handicrafts, and they taught us how to craft with straw and wool, and late we wanted to try with real gemstones instead of straw. After a few months we started making necklaces to sell. Later on, one of the volunteers taught us how to roll paper, two of our friends came up with the idea of using those little paper rolls to make necklaces. They became like the pearls that we use in every piece of jewelry that we make.
"With these training programs we've also learned to write and do mathematics, and they trained us in naming our creations, calculating costs, materials, setting prices, etc. Some of the moms are studying elementary school, others basic knowledge and still other have been studying different things. Some of the moms have jobs and others are home makers. There are some who have graduated and continue participating in our group's organization. We've been studying to get an education and be better people, and set an example to other women as well as our children.
"We believe it is our own responsibility to work and provide for our families, and it is our children's responsibility to study. We include our children by teaching them about our art so that they may know what it is that we do, and learn that there does exist a way to strive ahead despite problems and circumstances that could arise.
"Our project has grown thanks to the support from volunteers and the people who have always believed in our project. Today we are much better organized. We transform recyclable materials into beauty; each piece we craft is recycled and unique. Most of the jewelry we make is with paper stones crafted from magazines, cereal boxes and posters, most of which we receive from different companies who have no more use for the printed materials they once used. We recycle them at home or we receive donations. Sometimes it's difficult when we can't match the colors all the time as they vary between magazines and we can't always find the same item.
"We've been crafting eco jewelry for since then, and in 2010 we formalized our venture. Each one works from home, which allows us the flexibility of a schedule and look after our children. We meet weekly to deliver the products we made, organize orders and get paid.
"We are proud to say that each mother has her own designs and has developed her own style, which reflects our individual personality.
"Our line of work has many challenges, like finding where to sell, keep production constant and look after our children all at the same time. The nicest part of our art is crafting the paper pearls – it is the most complicated thing to do, but a good challenge to make the best ones.
"Crafting a jewelry piece is fun and magical, that's were our own creativity comes in. This is a beautiful art and it inspires us to think that someone will be wearing one of our designs. We enjoy being able to be create new things and improve ours and our families' lives.
"I'm Irina Rodriguez and when I joined the project I was going through economic hardships. I used to clean houses and wash people's clothes, always looking for more clients to be able to bring in more money. I would usually arrive by nightfall to prepare dinner for my five children. Since I joined this project my life has completely turned around: I have more time with my children, my economic situation has improved dramatically and in 2011 I graduated with a degree in Science and Literature. I used to believe that was not possible for me.
"When you purchase one of our products, you're not only getting a unique piece of jewelry. You're also becoming part of the dream of one of the people in our group. We are a different group because by crafting jewelry we're growing as people. Through our work we have won the respect and admiration of those who know us through our art.
"When people hear about us, they usually associate us with garbage. But when they see our work, our jewelry, they are marveled by what we can do with what they believe is waste.
"We would like to thank Novica for offering us the opportunity to sell our products online and for letting us be a part of you and showing people our art. Thank you for the opportunity to grow and realize our dreams."