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Lola: DLG Intern, Entrepreneur and Embroiderer Extraordinaire

My name is Dolores, but I like to be called Lola. I come from a big family; I have 5 brothers and 6 sisters. They have helped me get to where I am today; without them I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I have. I am very thankful for God and my family.

I am from Santiago Atitlan. Living in Santiago is beautiful; it's people, customs, traditions, culture and places like volcanoes, the lake and other areas. There I was born, raised and possibly there I will die, that I don’t know exactly, but I never get tired of living there because each day I fall in love with its beauty.

In 2012 I became a part of an organization called Starfish that is dedicated to unlocking and maximizing the potential of young women to be leaders in their communities and make an infinite impact. I got involved in this organization as a special case because I was supposedly finished with my basic schooling and I wasn’t going to continue studying. I didn’t study in 2011 at all, and it was then that I looked for a scholarship opportunity with Starfish. They saw the desire I had to continue studying and this is how I received a scholarship and have always had internship opportunities.

One of my main endeavors right now is Mayan Life, which wouldn’t be possible without the support of Starfish. I became involved with Mayan Life by chance. Some youth who started Mayan Life were doing some surveying and arrived at my house to work with my family. They interviewed me and they realized that we have a lot in common and that I like to work in tourism.  This is how I got involved with Mayan Life. Starfish gave the opportunity to all of us members of Mayan Life to study a specialized high school degree - local business – and this is how I received my degree in tourism and business.

Mayan Life is a group of young entrepreneurs that are starting a small tour agency with the objective of working for solidary tourism (solidary tourism is tourism that promotes a form of travel that besides appreciating the attractions of the country you are visiting allows for collaboration with the development of its people) which differs from tourists only carrying with them unforgettable memories of landscapes and Mayan families.  Mayan Life provides its clients with an opportunity to get to know new realities, cultures, customs and traditions. For example, one can live with the families of Starfish young women for a few days. Currently many of the clients have been donors of Starfish. Mayan Life has also received 2 groups from France from an organization called Alter Exchange that works with young, single mothers through an alliance with ATITUR SOLIDARIO in Panajachel, Guatemala. Right now Mayan Life is working on creating webpages like Facebook and others, marketing and promotional materials - always with help from Starfish.

(Left: Lola organized the Volcanathon Event with Donors from Starfish - Right: Lola with a group of French tourists preparing Patín, a traditional meal from Santiago Atitlan)

Through the internship opportunities provided by Starfish, I am now living in Antigua and interning with De la Gente.  My experience with De la Gente will help me grow Mayan Life because each day I learn or discover different things about how DLG works; things that maybe I didn’t see before or if I had seen it I didn’t know exactly how it worked. This is what I’m learning at DLG and it will help me better Mayan Life.

My favorite part of De la Gente are the tours, workshops , interacting with other people, sharing ideas and discovering new forms of life, seeing how appreciative the farmers are for DLG, and being involved in staff meetings when everyone is informed of each other’s work.

I have endless hopes for the future, but the ones that stand out are having a university degree and to see Mayan Life come to life. I would like that one day the families of the youth talk about Mayan Life like the farmers talk about De la Gente. It is beautiful to hear this because we should help families.

Lola will be facilitating an embroidery workshop in Antigua Guatemala in early June. Stay tuned for details!