In Latin America it’s common for fathers to train their sons in the family trade, while daughters learn domestic skills from their mothers. It’s more unusual for fathers to mentor their daughters.
Evelyn, an 11-year-old sponsored child in Guatemala, is one girl whose father, Laureano, has no issues with teaching her his woodworking craft.
“I never thought that she would be interested,” Laureano said, “but she liked the things I was making and she wanted to learn. She would come and ask, ‘Dad, can I help you?’ So I would give her small tasks, and she would observe and ask. This is how she picked up the skill. And she learned well.”
That ability to learn well is something Evelyn has in common with her father. Laureano’s carpentry skills were largely self-taught, but he has been successful enough that now he has his own shop. Evelyn spoke with admiration about her dad’s development as an artisan.
“At first my father sold firewood, but then he realized that he could use the wood to make things. This is how my dad started making woodwork. He did not have any tools and he did not know how to make tables, but he just did it.”
While it’s too early to know if Evelyn will one day earn a living as a carpenter, for now she enjoys learning from, and working with, her dad. Laureano likes having his daughter with him, but he insists that she keep up with her other responsibilities, especially her education, which is supported by her Unbound sponsorship.
“[Sponsorship] has opened the possibilities for my little girl to have a good education,” Laureano said. “This is my priority, for her to be educated and have better opportunities. I tell her that she can come to the shop to work only after she has finished her homework and studies because our priority is education.”
Along with her mother, Florinda, and her four siblings, Evelyn helps Laureano with his projects whenever she can.
“I help my father sand the wood pieces for chairs and tables,” she said. “My dad says, ‘I will teach you at a young age because no one taught me.'”
When homework and chores are done, Evelyn gets to use whatever scrap pieces of wood are left for her own projects.
“My favorite thing to make is the little wooden toys and the etchings on wood,” she said. “I am the only one who makes these things.”
But as much as Evelyn enjoys making the items, what she likes most is that, by selling them, she earns spending money that she uses to purchase things she needs.
“When my mother says, ‘You need new shoes,’ I tell her, ‘Don’t worry, I can buy them with my wood money.'”
Evelyn’s mother supports her daughter’s passion.
“I believe she can pick up any skill,” Florinda said. “She is very intelligent, she is skillful, and I would be proud of her if she decides to continue doing this. It’s not common to see a girl doing this type of work here in our community, but I believe girls have the same abilities as boys.”
Florinda likes how Laureano and Evelyn developed a shared interest, which helped the two grow closer.
“Their mutual love for working with wood has provided great communication between them,” she said. “They talk about homework, dreams, ideas, friends at school, teachers, everything.”
But mostly, they talk about woodworking.