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Dolores Gonzalez (Lola)
Dolores Gonzalez, known by all as Lola, was born in San Pedro La Laguna in 1978. She is a single mother of four children who she has raised on her own. For the last three years, she has been supporting her family by selling her beadwork and washing clothes for tourists. It takes Lola four days to make a beaded belt working the entire day. Her designs are all original which distinguish them from other beadwork which are often reproductions of standard designs. She owns her own home which she has built over the years, financed by her modest income and a bank loan.
At the age of twelve, after Lola completed the 6th grade, she wanted to continue her studies, however her father refused to pay the tuition and supplies because he was opposed to schooling for girls and said that only boys should go to school. Intent on going to school regardless of her father's position, Lola began weaving and doing sewing to help finance her studies. On the weekends she sold tortillas in the market.
After completing the equivalent of high school, Lola wanted to continue studying. At the age of 17, she went on her own to Guatemala City without knowing anyone. She found work as a maid for a family and was given room and was allowed to pursue her studies in the afternoons. In 1997 she graduated with a teaching certificate, but was unable to find work as a teacher. Meanwhile, she met a man who fathered her first child and then left her to care for the child on her own. Lola returned to San Pedro and found work as a teacher and met another man who fathered two more children. He was physically abusive and drank heavily. Lola finally left him. Without work or any income for a period of time, the family suffered greatly. Fortunately, she found work with a Spanish NGO and became the coordinator for groups of women, training and mentoring them as they developed micro enterprises. Lola was passionate about her work and felt she had found her true calling. After four years when the administration changed, she was without a job once again as jobs are allocated according to party affiliation in Guatamala. Lola realized that her true passion is in assisting and empowering single women to get ahead and support their families. Single women come to her daily looking for moral support and advice and see her as a role model and mentor. Lola's dream is to start a project and get funding to assist and support single mothers to succeed financially and find their voices. She is now on the board and treasurer of the Ayudame a Pintar Mi Futuro (Help Me Paint My Future), an after school and weekend youth art program.
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