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Ramona | Guatemala

Ramona | Guatemala

Ramona Lucia from Guatemala

“Although I grew up with many limitations, I did not limit myself and always looked for a way to get ahead.”

Ramona Lucia, 23, lives with her family in Chiyax, a small village, 45 minutes from the city of Totonicapán. The local Maya dialect is K’iche’. Ramona was taught to embroider by her mother, Cipriana, who is also a member of the Multicolores’ Embroidery group, which is supported by a WE grant.

Throughout her life Ramona has dared to do things without fear to make her dreams come true. One such dream was to finish High School. This meant taking a job, at 12 years old, so that she could pay for transportation, food and school supplies when it looked like her parents’ financial resources would prevent her from going to school. Juggling work and school often meant that she had to do her homework well into the night. Ramona describes herself as a person with a lot of creativity, positivity, and perseverance to achieve her goals.

Another goal took shape in 2022 when the embroidery group had the opportunity to visit the home of a private collector and view the embroidered works of Antonio Ramirez Sosof, now deceased. The works so inspired Ramona that she resigned from her job in a shoe factory and dedicated herself to her career as an embroidery artist. Impressed with the collection, she stated that “one day I want people to collect my work like they have collected Don Antonio’s.”

Ramona’s abundant enthusiasm and willingness to learn has not gone unnoticed. She is currently working with Multicolores, assisting the Creative Director in the production area, putting into practice many of the new skills she has gained: quality control, shipping and inventory management, which she learned during her ArtWorks internship with Multicolores in 2022. Ramona is also learning English. Of working with Ramona, the Creative Director shares, “it’s nice to see how Ramona processes information; one can see her eyes light up generating more ideas and getting ready for action. She is very observant and wants to replicate the good she sees in others.”

An important and recurring theme in Ramona’s work is loss of culture and lack of awareness of cultural stories. She forms part of a movement of artists who are narrating and illuminating this theme globally. As an artist, Ramona uses incongruous imagery in her artwork, combining images that would not exist in reality, in order to evoke an emotion or sentiment. This can be seen in the story cloth below entitled, El Baile del Venado (The Dance of the Deer).

As a member of Multicolores, Ramona is proud to work with a group of talented and creative women who share ideas, support each other, and find joy in collective work. She is proud to support herself and her family through her work. Over time, Ramona has improved her design skills, particularly her drawing skills, she has learned how to convey technical knowledge to other women in her group, and she has achieved many of her goals. Her current goal is to continue saving so that she can install a drainage system in her family’s home. She also wants to continue learning English and learn more about clothing design. Ramona likes a challenge, and she likes to challenge herself. She is ready to take on the world!

“The Dance of the Deer is one of our most celebrated traditions, a folkloric rain dance, to the tune of the maracas and marimba. At the center of the dance is a person dressed as a deer, wearing a painted mask and a special ceremonial cloak.” – Ramona

El Baile del Venado (The Dance of the Deer) by Ramona Lucia Tzunún García













Micaela | Guatemala

Micaela | Guatemala

Micaela from Guatemala

“I have faced diverse challenges in my life but I consider myself a strong person, able to face the challenges which have affected me. I always strive to move forward. I see each challenge as a new opportunity.”

Micaela with Multicolores' program in Guatemala

Micaela, 28, lives with her elderly mother and three brothers in the Lakeside community of Santiago Atitlán in the highlands of Guatemala. The local Maya dialect is T’zutujil. Micaela is an accomplished weaver and embroiderer; she is renowned for her technique, detail, and fine stitching. She describes herself as creative, responsible, kind and respectful, above all a person willing to explore new opportunities.

When Micaela dropped out of school at the age of 12, because her family was unable to afford the cost of her uniform, books and supplies, she thought that the opportunity to learn was lost to her. But in Multicolores, she found a way to continue learning. Micaela regularly participates in workshops in design, drawing, color theory, and new product development. As a group leader she enjoys sharing this new knowledge. It is important to her that all the women in her group have equal knowledge.

Micaela was the first artist chosen to participate in Multicolores’ Internship Program, ArtWorks. During three months, she learned about quality control, the marketing and sales of artisan products, and shipping processes. She also became adept at typing, computing, taking and editing product photographs, and creating word documents.

Of her experience, Micaela reflects, “by participating in Multicolores’ Programs I have new ideas, new knowledge in all aspects of my life. I have overcome the fear of expressing my ideas and points of view in public.”

Since joining Multicolores in 2018, Micaela’s embroidered story cloths have been exhibited in galleries in the United States and Guatemala. Micaela could never have imagined how far her artwork would go. Micaela is a story teller. In her artwork she is drawn to explore the many legends and stories told in her community, saying, “each of these legends reflects a cultural reality and is a way for me to express my own perspective on the stories we grew up with. In every piece I like to experiment with stitching and composition to inspire the curiosity of the viewer, drawing your attention down to the smallest details.”

With income from embroidery, Micaela helps support her family by paying the household’s expenses. One of Micaela’s goals is to learn English, the other is to continuing growing and exploring as an embroidery artist. She hopes to always be innovative in her designs.

Embroidery piece by Micaela, titled "Freedom"


Embroidery piece by Micaela, titled "The Legend of El Cadejo"

“The Legend of El Cadejo”

Embroidery piece by Micaela, titled "The Legend of the Sun"

“The Legend of the Sun”









Kaleah Smith  |  San Diego

Kaleah Smith | San Diego

Kaleah Smith from San Diego, California

Kaleah Smith had a challenging childhood. Kaleah moved dozens of times, attended 30 schools and was in dozens of foster homes and group homes. Kaleah was expelled from school and sent to juvenile hall when she was 14. At that time, she was removed from her current foster home, separated from her younger brother and ran away several times, violating her probation.

This led to Kaleah not finishing high school. At the age of 16, Kaleah was working, trying to support herself living on her own. At the age of 18, Kaleah aged out of foster care and went to live on her own. In 2019, Kaleah and her fiancé moved to San Diego, and she started her second chance high school diploma program at Urban Corps Charter School. Kaleah also got connected to Just in Time for Foster Youth, where they helped her get her first place by herself in El Cajon. This came at just the right time and she is very proud of this accomplishment, after she spent several months in a homeless shelter.

Kaleah didn’t let her circumstances define her. At Urban Corps, Kaleah works with a City of San Diego homeless encampment and beautification crew where she works to pick up trash and bulky items to make neighborhoods, parks, and open spaces safer. Kaleah is graduating from Urban Corps Charter School in December 2022. Kaleah is ambitious and has big goals. Before she graduates, she wants to obtain her driver’s license and receive new trainings and certifications. After graduation, Kaleah wants to go to college for cosmetology, sociology and nursing. Her other goals? To be married with a big family, financially and spiritually stable.

Uris | El Salvador

Uris | El Salvador

Uris from El Salvador

Uris Esperanza Cruz de Muñoz, lives at Colonia La Pista, Usulutan, a state on the East side of El Salvador, considered to be one of those under extreme poverty conditions and with high rates of irregular migration. Her family includes her husband, Marcos, who is a laborer, and their four children, three of which are still at school.

She has always been a entrepreneur. She used to have a tortilleria, making corn tortillas to be sold. On 2015, she had the opportunity to access her first loan – she received $200 – to enhance the tortilleria. She was able to improve her production and income and diversify with a small grocery store, with a few different products. 

She has received four loans since then. By the second one, she stopped making tortillas – a really exhausting activity – and dedicated her efforts and resources to growing and expanding the grocery store. Currently, she received her most recent loan in January 2022 for $500. She used the money to keep investing in the grocery store. She introduced even more diversity of products to become the first choice of stores for her community. She already has enough profit to keep the business, support her family, and afford the payback of the loan. 

Marta | Guatemala

Marta | Guatemala

Marta Sulema Socón Sacuj from Guatemala

“Before starting the Embroidery Program, I didn’t know how to draw and it was challenging to learn. But I learned that not everything in life will come easy, rather that there are things that will be difficult. And the difficult things are worth more. I value my work because it has truly helped me to get ahead.”

Marta, 34, lives with her husband and four children in Patanatic, a small, rural village close to Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. The area is mountainous and houses are typically built on a hillside. Apart from agriculture (coffee, corn, fruit, vegetables; and raising poultry) economic opportunities are few. As a result, many people work outside the community in construction, restaurants, and hotels.

In 2016, Marta happily accepted Multicolores’ invitation to join the Embroidery Program. It was particularly gratifying for her because alongside acquiring embroidery and design skills, she was also trained as a teacher equipped to train other women in the technique. Marta has since formed an Embroidery group with women from her local community.

Of working with Multicolores Marta says, “working with Multicolores is not just a job for me because it’s been a fundamental part of my life, in which ‘I’ as a woman have achieved many things! I have a good job, I manage my own time, I’m with my children, and each month I have income that helps me to pay for my family’s expenses. I’ve seen many positive changes in myself and the other artists through our work with Multicolores. We feel valued and have a new confidence in our own capacity. In Guatemala, since ancient times, there have existed many prejudices against women, many think that as women we have little more to contribute than being a housewife. Now I realize that gender equality is crucial to achieving development in our communities. As women we are capable of making great contributions to our families and to society.”

Importantly for Marta, her embroidery is a source of great pride. Her pieces, inspired by nature and Maya heritage, are a way for her to keep her rich cultural history alive. She loves embroidery because it enables her to express herself freely and creatively. She hopes to always be an enterprising mother, supporting the needs of her family, investing in her children’s education, and always innovative in her work.