"Only this time it's not the street but the workshop where we 'play' at creating products that actually go toward providing for our families."
"I was born in 1981 in Santiago Atitlán, and ever since I was a little boy I've always enjoyed making things with my hands. For a long time I worked in textiles and crafting beaded jewelry until I found my true passion: wood carving.
"I come from a family of farmers, and my two brothers, my sister and I all agree ours was a beautiful childhood, playing every day with our friends in the streets of our village. Back then our village was very different to what it is nowadays…
"I first got into handicrafts from a need we've always had of having a job – this need is like an engine that pushes you through life to make different things and be creative solving problems. This need took me on a search for different options for earning a living.
"I never let go of my belief that if others have managed to achieve great things, why couldn't we do the same. This thought is what motivates me to keep on working more, each day improving on what I did the day before.
"I remember well the first piece I ever made, a wood sculpture of a cobra. I’m not sure what's happened to it since then, but to me it will always remain as the sculpture that got me started in the journey of becoming a wood artisan.
"I began carving wood in 2003 and I've done apprenticeships in several workshops. Now I work along my brother Diego Mendoza. I love working with him because I'm always learning from him all the while he encourages me to create my own designs and products.
"Diego has been a great teacher to me, and now I try to be an equally great teacher to our younger brother, as well as to other apprentices at the workshop. I enjoy sharing the knowledge I have acquired through the years. I believe this is the only way to pay back all the time my teachers invested in me.
"I consider myself a hard-working person, kind and responsible. I enjoy working at the workshop, which I share with others. To me it's like a return to childhood because us three Mendoza brothers are there along with two very good friends that have become part of the family. It brings back memories of all of us playing together on the street… Only this time it's not the street but the workshop where we 'play' at creating products that actually go toward providing for our families.
"I loved playing in our village – I remember one day climbing up a tree because I saw a nest and I wanted to see if there were little birds inside. To my surprise, there were mice there, not birds! As I stretched my arm, the mice ran up inside my sleeve and they startled me so much I jumped off the tree. And so I learned to never again put my hands up to nests in trees!
"I dream of one day owning a workshop where I can continue to develop my creativity and my work. I'd love to be in a position where I can help other people, like Diego does. My dream workshop would also be a place where youngsters can learn a trade and find a way to provide for their families.