“If you could have anything…”
In 1987, a mission team from a partner church in North Carolina traveled to the Western Highlands of Guatemala. They visited the Association and asked members: “If you could have anything, what would it be?” The women immediately responded in unison, “a sewing machine!” So the group borrowed a jeep, traveled down a dusty road into town, and purchased the very first foot-pedal Singer sewing machine. Little did they know that was just the beginning.
Upon returning to North Carolina, they began raising money. A few more sewing machines were purchased, and informal classes began. By the year 2000, a formal sewing school was established, graduating students with diplomas. Today, we are delighted to report that there are four sewing schools and more than 1,000 alumnae!
These sewing schools provide an opportunity for women to learn a skill that can generate income for their families. The largest of the schools is located in a mid-sized town, has 22 sewing machines, and enrolls 80 students. The second school is in an isolated mountain village where there are few opportunities for women to learn a vocation. This remote school has ten sewing machines and 22 students. The teacher must travel nearly two hours to reach the school and she spends the night in the village when classes are in session. There are also two new satellite schools in local villages, closer to the women’s homes.
Students typically attend classes for two years, learning sewing and embroidery. They focus on producing marketable goods such as aprons, tablecloths, and traditional Mayan clothing. The annual enrollment fee per student is $50. Some can afford it, others cannot. Scholarships are available, with funds provided by generous donors in the United States. You are welcome to make a donation at any time!
These women have found hope in a sewing machine. This sewing mission promotes women’s empowerment, self-esteem, and self-confidence, and provides an avenue for fellowship. For those of us involved from afar, we continue to experience a spiritual bond that only God can provide.