Elena learned how to weave from her mother when she was just eight years old - the same year she was forced to drop out of school because her family could no loner afford it because her father struggled with alcoholism and spent what little money they had. Her mother would weave at night and she has happy memories of falling asleep watching her mother weave. She enjoys weaving because it gives her a chance to earn money and improve her life.
Elena’s cooperative was founded out of the conflict. The men could not go out in fear of being captured and killed so the women came together to form cooperatives to support their families during the war. Women today face resistance from their husbands when joining cooperatives. Some men do not like women being outside the household in traditional roles. Elena is very happy her husband has always been supportive of her weaving so she is not at home in her kitchen.
Maya Traditions Foundation has helped Elena sell her products and given her tools to make her products more desirable in the market. She can make higher quality products that are more desirable and will sell at a higher price. They are able to recycle old huipiles into other products such as bags so the art is not lost and they are still able to make a profit.
She hopes the cooperatives will continue to help and empower women to continue their education and make financial contributions to their families. She hopes to see her cooperative grow to over 50 women and to keep showing their craft and sharing it with tourists for years to come.