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Special Envoy’s Wonder Woman is Candelaria Kukul

Posted: Wednesday, May 24, 2023. 11:11 am CST.

By Zoila Palma Gonzalez: The Special Envoy for the Development of Families and Children, Rossana Briceño features outstanding Belizean women making a difference in Belize every week.

Today’s feature is on Candelaria Kukul.

Candelaria was born in the Ketchi Maya community of Aguacate Village in the Toledo district.

Since she was the oldest, her mother taught her everything she had learned from her own mother. They had to learn how to make everything because there was no currency in the village and products were not easily accessible as they are now.

Kukul learned from a young age to make her own cups out of calabash, her baskets out of vines, earrings and baskets out of Jippy Jappa, plates and bowls out of clay, clothes and bags out of hand-made fabric made from self-spun cotton thread.

The village had its own cotton plantation to make garments. Men went to the jungle to harvest the vines needed to make larger and stronger baskets. The men were also farmers and grew produce for their families.

Kukul attended school in a Palapa and sat on logs to take her lessons.

Studying at that time was very difficult because access to education was limited. As a result, she did not have a chance of furthering her education. However, she was determined to accomplish more.

As a child, her mother told her that she must learn to make everything because it was what was expected of her as a woman; she wasn’t allowed to go anywhere.

In spite of her mother’s words, Kukul has been a part of many cultural groups in the area and she began her own business. She kept her lessons as a part of her culture and identity and began teaching others the Maya way.

She has trained her entire community, including her daughters, to make everything she knows how to make.

Her son has also motivated her to expand her presence online via social media in order to gain more exposure.

Presently, the community financially benefits from these handmade items.

She has also trained people in neighboring villages so that they can also earn an income.

Kukul has worked to preserve and share her Maya heritage with the community and country.


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