Exceptional artistry: Francisca’s story
Like many people with disability in Guatemala, Francisca never used to leave her home . She lost the ability to walk after contracting polio when she was only a year old. She was scared of how people would treat her in the street and had no wheelchair to get around in.
“People used to look at my feet before my face - they saw the disability rather than me,” Francisca said. “That has changed a lot thanks to Adisa’s education program - there has been a big cultural shift.”
When Francisca was 14 she got a wheelchair from Adisa. It changed her life. Everyday tasks that had previously been a challenge - showering, using the bathroom, eating with her family - were made much easier. She began to gain her independence.
After her father tragically drowned in Lake Atitlán, Francisca was desperate to find work so she could boost the family’s income. With the help of Adisa, she learned how to make bracelets from beads and recycled paper.
When she later decided that she wanted to study, Argentina - one of Adisa’s founders - gave her home-schooling. With time, she has gained confidence, and her crafts have been crucial to the economic well-being of her family.
Now 37 years old, Francisca is one of Adisa’s most accomplished artisans. She works from home, making bracelets and earrings out of beads, wire, and recycled magazine paper. Every two weeks, she delivers her crafts to Adisa, and the colorful jewelry is sold at a fair price in the Artisan’s shop.
Besides providing her with an income, it has boosted her self-esteem and made her a proud member of the community. On International Women’s day, March 8th, Francisca participated in a women’s art exhibition in Santiago Atitlán at the Posada in Atitlán and her crafts are now being featured in the Cojolya association of women weavers.
“I’m included, respected, and able to work, that makes me happy.”