The Sewing Project
The Sewing Project
is an Income Generating Activity (IGA) that promotes the economic advancement of women by teaching them this vocational skill. Our goal is to train women in using a sewing machines to promote economic security of the participants, her family and her community. We also promote the transfer of skills within the participants, promote the habit of saving money, and train participants with life-skills.
Generally, only men have had access to working with sewing machines, and hand sewing which can be painstakingly intricate and time consuming has been reserved for women. Traditionally, the job of the woman has been to be the caretaker of the family and to sew for them by hand. With proper training and a sewing machine, an Indigenous woman can better tend to the needs of her family, as well as have a marketable skill to contribute to the economics of the home. Through the use of a sewing machine women are able to produce more items in less time, and have a higher quality products, which increases her selling merchandise.
We invite you to visit our Sewing Project Blog, where you can read updates and news within the sewing project, the work with the artisans participating in the project, women interested in joining our sewing classes and other activities.
The sewing instructor:
Alberto Bocel, is the full-time instructor on staff. He has over 20 years of experience as a tailor. He has been the instructor in the program since its inception in 2006 and has taught every single woman who has participated in this project.
Sewing Course detail:
Classes are made available to the women based on donations from people like you. A contribution of $75.00 enables an Indigenous woman to improve her life by learning to use a sewing machine. The women also pay a very small fee to participate in the class, simply as a contribution to the program. We currently hold classes only in Panajachel. On average between six and ten women participate in the classes during any given group.
The sewing course/training is divided into two stages, each lasting three months each, for a total of six months. Classes are held twice a week during each stage. The demand for these classes are high therefore we typically have a backlog of women waiting to get into new classes. If you are interested in having the mother of your sponsored child join in the classes, please send an inquiry to email@example.com and she'll be happy to follow up with the mother of your student.
Criteria for selecting the participants:
Approximately 70% of the participants have at least one child who is sponsored through Mayan Families education program. Although the majority of the women have sponsored children, Mayan Families also opens the course to other women who have no children sponsored through our program. The main goal is to open the course to the women who are the most interested and committed to pursuing sewing as a way to empower themselves.
Successes of the sewing project:
Since its inception in 2006 the sewing project has trained over 150 women with sewing skills and some successes as identified by past participants are listed below:
- Women feel empowered
- Women are able to contribute to the economics of the home
- Women are able to make financial contributions related to their children's schooling and health
- Women are less dependent of men for money
- Women save money by making their own traditional aprons and attires
- Women save money by making clothing for their children
- Women save money by making household goods (curtains, sheets, etc) for their homes,
- Women make money by selling their products
- Women make money by mending clothes for clients
Merchandise made by the participants:
Graduates of the program are able to use their sewing machines to make the following items:
Other items made by the women in the sewing project include:
The items made by the participants are typically sold in their own communities, although some women do travel outside of their village to sell in nearby towns, but, the cost of transportation makes it difficult for the women to access more profitable markets. We occasionally hold artisan markets at our office, where we invite our women to sell their goods to our visitor. If you're interested in setting up a market for your group of visitors, please let us know by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Income Generating Opportunities for sewing project participants
On many occasions we have been fortunate to partner with individuals and other organizations who also share our belief of promoting the economic advancement of women through employment opportunities. These employment opportunities are varied, as some are short term, while others are longer term, but they have one common goal, to help lift our women out of poverty. Highlighted below are a few of the most recent employment initiatives that the sewing project has undertaken:
Madison Women's Health (diaper bags)- Fifteen women are currently participating in this unique opportunity. The women make the fabric using the back-strap weaving technique. The fabric is then embroidered by hand and turned into a colorful bag which is then gifted to new patients who give birth at Madison Women's Health. Meet the 15 artisans currently participating in this initiative by clicking here.
Oh My Maya(wrap-around skirts)- Sewing project graduates were selected to make wrap around skirts for Oh My Maya to sell via their online store. To look at the skirts or to purchase them, please follow this link http://ohmymaya.org/shop/pana-wrap-skirts-women-girls
Aldea Maya (Sanitary Pads)-A sewing graduate is currently participating in this income generating activity. she makes reusable flannel sanitary pads. You can help with this cause by purchasing a packet of pads for your sponsored family for $25.00. Please click here to read more about this venture or visit Aldea Maya for more information.
Mayan Families (butcher-style aprons)-Mayan Families itself has partnered with our own graduates to continuously employ them to make the classic butcher-style aprons which are give to the people who participate in our cooking class. See the butcher-style apron here.
Mercado Global (conference bags) - A few of the graduates of the sewing class were selected to join other women from the Lake Area to complete thousands of conference bags for a multimillion dollar corporation.
How YOU can help the Sewing Project:
There are several ways in which you can help us to meet our goals of training women with sewing skills.
Sponsor a woman for the sewing classes
This is one of the best ways to empower a woman. To sponsor a woman to participate in the project, follow these simple steps:
- Follow this link: mayanfamilies.org/donatenow
- Enter $75.00 in the "other" box
- Write "Sewing Class" in the "details" box
- Click Submit form
Donate funds in any amount
- Follow this link: mayanfamilies.org/donatenow
- Enter the amount in the "other" box
- Write "Sewing Project" in the "details" box
- Click submit form
Donate Sewing machines and other supplies
Some sponsors choose to bring a sewing machine to donate to the sewing project when they are visiting with us. A sewing machine is an asset to help a woman to achieve her goals of making an income. To donate more than one sewing machine, please send us an e-mail at email@example.com. We also welcome donations of other supplies such as scissors, needles, tailor's chalk, pattern, fabric, etc.
Teach a class or workshop
We welcome people who have a special sewing skill or ability to "teach" a class or a workshop for current or past sewing project participants. We work with women who are committed to learning as much as they can about sewing. To arrange a "teaching" date, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buy merchandise from the Sewing Project
We encourage you to buy the merchandise produced by the participants when you or your friends visit with us. For more information and details about a specific item, please send an e-mail to email@example.com.NOTE: Please be advised that we currently do not have a reliable method for shipping merchandise out of the country, therefore, we only advise you to buy items while you are in country, as we will not responsible for items lost in the mail.
If you need further assistance or more additional information about any of the points highlighted here, please feel free to send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org