"Becoming a jewelry artisan has opened my mind and now I dare to dream, because I know they can come true."
"I was born in San Miguel Dueñas and I'm Carlos Rafael, a jewelry artisan who specializes in metal alloys. According to my friends, I'm a serious person, exacting and prompt. As a child I went to school at night since I had to work by day, just like the other children in my community had to do.
"I put in a lot of hard work and I sacrificed a lot to make sure I finished middle school. It wasn't easy, but I feel very proud of that achievement, for it taught me that effort is always rewarded.
"I've always loved to design, and I find my inspiration in nature with all its colors and shapes. My family is also a source of inspiration with their wish for constantly striving forward.
"I learned the silversmith's art when I was 14 years old from an artisan who is now retired. His name is Sergio Muñoz, and he had the patience to teach me a craft that now puts food on my table. Today it's my turn to invest my time to teach those in my workshop.
"With the years one comes to understand that learning this art requires experience and continuous work. That's how you learn to lose your fears and to experiment, and make mistakes.
"I started working in different jewelry workshops and little by little I became independent. I learned that working on your own isn't easy. On the contrary it's difficult given the competition, which at times can be hard and disloyal. It's also sad when customers do not appreciate the value of the work that goes into the crafting of each piece, and prefer mass produced pieces of a cheap quality.
"Becoming a jewelry artisan has opened my mind and now I dare to dream, because I know they can come true. Just like once I dreamed of becoming a platero (silversmith), now I dream of a better future for my children, that they may go to graduate school, and that our quality of life is the best one possible."