Magda’s Story

“Working in AMA, I don’t suffer discrimination for being indigenous and speaking Mam like in other places I have worked. Here, it’s an advantage I have and I’m not rejected for being who I am. I have the opportunity to learn many new things and currently getting to practice all aspects related to by career of Business Administration is why I like my position. I want to see Alternatives Boutique Xela grow more, and I want to see more clients coming into the store all the time. I’m so grateful for my position here, I always dreamed of this type of opportunity.”

Magda Romero from Espumpuja is the daughter of AMA women’s circle leader Doña Esperanza and is currently working as the cashier and manager of Alternatives Boutique Xela. Magda does all sales, inventory, delivery notices, check requests and budget management for the store, as well as translation between Mam and Spanish and back-strap loom weaving demonstrations.

Her story as a professional begins far from an office: she has spent most of her life as farm worker harvesting her family’s crops. She worked with her father who didn’t pay her for her labor but instead counted it as her duty to support the family in the fields from sunrise to sundown. From a young age, Magda always wanted to continue her studies past the 6th-grade level required by the Guatemalan government, but her parents never had the money to support her given her large family. She began working for her cousins who would pay her 50 Quetzales (approx. $7.00) for about 6 hours of work that she then used to fund her middle school and high school tuition. She also sold her weavings, was a street food vendor and worked as a grocery store clerk to make ends meet. But people in Magda’s life told her that as a girl, she shouldn’t study and that education was only for men. Hearing this hurt her deeply, and for a period of two years she ceased to study. Thankfully she never truly gave up her dreams to be educated, and so a year ago she went back to school to do a two-year Business Administration program because of the motivation from one of her brothers who has always encouraged her to pursue an education.

Magda told us that she always thought in bigger terms than what she had been provided with. She dreamt of better opportunities and has always seen herself as becoming a successful business owner and midwife. She is not only studying Business Administration and working in AMA practicing those very skills she is learning but is also participating in a two-year course along with her mother to become a certified midwife. Magda is an example of a young indigenous person who has the potential and the drive to achieve her goals, and with our support, she has access to the resources she needs to become an agent of change.

Support the professional lives of indigenous women by donating to us for Giving Tuesday. Your contribution goes to supporting young women just like Magda to access opportunity. Donate here by November 29th, 2016, and receive a 50% discount on the Alternatives Boutique site just in time for ethical and sustainable Christmas shopping, as well as receive a beautiful PDF copy of our Guatemalan recipe book to impress your families around the dinner table!

Karen Mayorga