Since the early days of the pandemic, Mercado Global has worked closely with rural communities in Guatemala to virtually train and onboard additional artisans, to keep up with the demands for increased mask productions. With tourism – the main source of revenue for this region – at a standstill and towns on lockdown with strict quarantine measures in place, women have been even more eager to become one of our paid artisans, ensuring they have steady income throughout the crisis, along with emergency food donations to their communities.

Virginia lives in the San Pedro La Laguna township in rural Guatemala, on the southwest shore of Lake Atitlán. At 52 years old she has two children to care for, but after having her arm amputated, has struggled to find work.

In February 2020, she joined a local Mercado Global group with seven other women, who are known for their dedication and sewing skills. While she joined them with a strong knowledge base, the virtual trainings and camaraderie with her fellow artisans, has taken her skills to another level.

Virginia says, “Sewing used to be difficult when I thought I needed both hands to work. With Mercado Global, I have learned how to overcome what I thought was a limitation, but they have shown me that I can learn and grow through positivity and determination. My goal,” Virginia says, “is to become a seamstress who can demonstrate that despite it all, your dreams can be achieved.”

As long as masks are needed, Virginia has said she will continue producing them for Mercado Global. In her words, “I have a job when I thought I couldn’t work, especially during quarantine when I can’t leave my home. But now, at a time that I might feel depressed or overwhelmed with the issues of the world, I feel useful and I have a sense of purpose.”