By Stephanie Vail
Project Manager/Product Designer
Tucked away in the heart of Guatemala City, Guatemala, lies the community of La Verbana. Here, we have just began our second Artisans Thrive Training Program in partnership with World Orphans. On Friday afternoon, while everyone else is winding down for the week, you can find 15 women who have set aside their other responsibilities, left their children in someone else’s care, headed to the classroom, and who sit ready and willing to learn.
You see, La Verbana is located in one of three red zones in Guatemala City. Red zones are defined as areas with high crime, poverty, prostitution, gangs, drugs, and little to no opportunities for employment.
Each week, the women defy these challenges and come together to learn sewing skills, basic business skills, and to focus on their own personal growth and development. These are skills they’ll apply to both their personal and professional lives, in their own businesses and/or to create a group business or cooperative together.
Through our curriculum, they are able to challenge their thoughts and put on paper their hopes and dreams. In doing so, the women are reminded of their goals and encouraged to reflect and find the reason why this program is important to them, then hold onto that for motivation. Each woman differs in the depth of her experiences, but one thing they have in common is that they recognize what an opportunity like this means for them, their family, and their future.
For many, their motivation comes down to wanting a better future for their children: one woman recently expressed how by her joining and completing this training, she is being a role model for her children, showing them that studying is not optional--by her pushing herself, the children will be able to see that and model the discipline she has shown them, in their own lives.
During class last week, the women did a skit to model the different aspects of a business that we were working on. Afterwards, during our reflection, one woman expressed how she is learning new things about herself that she didn’t even know she liked! She expanded, and also mentioned how this program is teaching her that she is able to work and provide for her family. Through these classes, she is slowly finding her worth, her voice, and her vision for her future.
The other half of class is spent learning and growing tangible skills by working on the sewing machine. With varying experience, the women eagerly strive to master this new art and be an encouragement to one another along the way. Hard at work to master the machines and sewing techniques, you can find everyone engaged, assisting the others and eagerly learning the basics which we will use and develop over the next few months as they create and design a unique product.
Keep your eyes out for more updates, stories and products that this group is working on over the next few months.
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