Hello! I’m Yessenia María Salvatierra. I’m 30 years old. I was born in Tosagua, Manabí. I went to high school. When I was 17 years old, I met Jairo Emiliano García, “el chino.” I fell in love with him, and I escaped from my house to live with him. Now we are married, and we have two children: Delia, who is 11 years old, and Jairito, who is 5 years old.
I have been involved with the Macramé Project for 3 years. I was invited, by Gregory Sheldon, to participate in a macramé course that he organized as an economic alternative for the women that had worked in the Nursery Government Program, and lost our jobs when the program ended. Since the beginning, I have been partners with Cecilia Ormaza. We both took the course and share our experiences in this project. Now Ceci and I are working in the Macramé Project as teachers.
This experience has been one of the most amazing in my life because I can make something different, create beautiful macramé items, and help my community and others, and support the economy of my family.
I live in la Elba Gonzalez community, in my mother in law’s house. My house is made with cane, and the soil is my floor. This is sad for me, because I would love to earn enough money to buy my own house, where my family can live good. The winter is terrible for me, because my entire house floods and my children get sick.
I’m so happy when I know that there is a new macramé production, because that means that the people in other countries value our work, and it will give more work to all the women that are a part of this project. I’m responsible for teaching macramé in two communities: San Ramon and Tosagua Center.
I appreciate this work opportunity a lot, because I can help my husband with the home expenses. Occasionally, my husband gets some work as an electrician. This work is so dangerous, and he has to make long trips. He earns 60 USD, monthly. I earn 80 USD, and I receive 35 USD from the government as a poverty bonus. So my family has 175 USD as monthly income, but we have to spend more than this quantity. We spent a lot on medicine, especially for me and my little son.
Nowadays, I combine my macramé teaching role with helping the Healthy Water Project in San Ramon. This is an incredible opportunity, because I can understand clearly the life situation of the women that are a part of my macramé group. Before this experience, I didn’t understand why some women were so sad and had bad behavior. Now, when I can interview them, I know their truths, and I can understand them, because they have terrible problems and live in extreme poverty.
Usually, I don’t like to read books, but now Vero asks me to read a lot. This is difficult for me, but I know she insists because she wants the women in Tosagua to be able to lead our dreams and community projects. The Macramé Project helps me to recognize my dreams again. I would love to study at the university, and I want to continue doing macramé bracelets to earn the money to buy my own house to live in, with my husband and children.
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