Guatemalan women sew success through CFCA
March 7, 2011
Mothers in the "Blessed Creations" or "Creaciones la Bendición" group
have produced thousands of items for the greater CFCA community,
including 11,000 Walk2gether T-shirts.
In Guatemala, spirited mothers have formed a group to improve the lives of their families — one garment at a time.
Two years ago, these women were in need of employment. Indigenous women are very vulnerable in Guatemala, said Enrique Gomez, a CFCA coordinator in Guatemala. Most do not attain adequate years of education and become mothers at young ages.
“They have disadvantages with economic, social and political inequalities,” Gomez said. “Many women end up working in low-paying jobs in factories or as house maids.”
CFCA’s Hope for a Family program empowers families to improve their own lives. The field staff works closely with parents of sponsored children to develop opportunities to help them change their circumstances.
At monthly meetings for mothers of sponsored children in Guatemala, the staff presented a video about mothers in CFCA communities in India who organized themselves into groups and started their own livelihood projects with small loans from CFCA. The video inspired a group of Guatemalan mothers to form a small business of their own.
“The mothers were impressed by the India mothers' ability to organize themselves and work together,” Gomez said. “They decided to join together and start a small dressmaking workshop.”
A commitment to work together
The mothers met and developed a training plan. They scraped together a few old but usable sewing machines.
Blanca, a member of the mothers group, works on
fabric using an industrial sewing machine.
“We realized that we needed training, so we received help from the husband of one of our coworkers,” said Blanca, a member of the group. “He had worked in a clothing factory and knew how to make T-shirts, and taught us.”
In 2009, eight of the women officially formed a new mothers group. They called themselves “Creaciones la Bendición,” or “Blessed Creations.”
The women borrowed $1,800 for one year from CFCA to purchase fabric and an industrial sewing machine. The mothers were excited, but faced many challenges learning their new craft and aspects of operating a small business.
The women divided the tasks according to the capacity of each member. One mother enjoys cutting fabric while others work the machines. One mother who suffers from heart problems and can’t do as much checks quality and packages the items.
“This group works in an atmosphere of fraternity and solidarity,” Gomez said. “They are well-united, and there is serious commitment from each member. They know that their hard work affects the rest of the group.”
Growing the business, improving their future
The women have produced thousands of items, such as children’s shirts, blouses, pants, jackets and bedspreads. They produced 11,000 T-shirts for the CFCA community to celebrate Walk2gether, CFCA President Bob Hentzen’s 8,000-mile trek through Latin America.
|‘Blessed Creations’ 2010 Production|
Their skill level and confidence have improved.
“I had never made a shirt, and couldn’t even put a neck on the shirt when we started,” Blanca said. “Through training and practice, I lost my fear and could sew 50 pieces an hour. … Now I can sew as much as 800 necks per day.”
The mothers are able to share ideas and encourage each other. Blanca’s 19-year-old son, Mynor, has been sponsored through the Hope for a Family program for 13 years. He graduated from high school in 2008. She has two other children.
“Sometimes I need to take my daughter to the doctor and they tell me to go without worries,” Blanca said. “If I work in a factory, I would probably never have the opportunity to do that.”
The women manage their own bank account and finances. In 2010, sales totaled more than $76,000. They now have 13 machines. Not bad for a group that started with just three.
The ambitious women still have many goals for the future.
“We want to see our children grow and have better opportunities,” Blanca said. Her son now studies systems engineering in college.
The women also would like to finish their primary education.
“We would like to see our business grow and have our products in many clothing stores,” Blanca said. “And we would like to continue to support our husbands with home expenses.”