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CFCA stories

Costa Rican moms make livelihoods through sewing

January 27, 2012

After three years, CFCA mothers groups in Costa Rica are gaining traction and improving the lives of moms and children in the Hope for a Family program.

CFCA sewing mothers group in Costa Rica
Mothers of CFCA sponsored children in Costa Rica are experiencing
the economic and social benefits of mothers groups.

María Elena Delgado, a CFCA social worker, has seen the women grow in unity and confidence since she started working with the groups in 2008.

"The positive characteristic with these groups is the good communication between them," Delgado said. "[The mothers] realized that they have great talent and together, they succeeded. I was encouraged to see so much self-improvement of these mothers."

Overcoming challenges of poverty

Delgado works with mothers groups in Heredia, a rapidly industrializing community about six miles north of San Jose.

The reality for families living in Heredia is harsh. They live in slums and struggle with social problems. Many live in river basins or dangerous areas threatened by landslides.

In a rough area such as this, hope can be just out of arm's reach. But the CFCA mothers groups give these mothers an extra boost.

Marcela and Nora are two mothers of CFCA sponsored children in Heredia who taught 15 other mothers to sew. These mothers in turn taught members of their CFCA mothers groups.

Now, all 180 mothers in the CFCA Heredia groups can sew. They sew uniform shirts and rain capes for schoolchildren and work from home.

Maribel is a single mother raising two sponsored children with no financial support outside CFCA sponsorship. Her economic situation was very difficult. She did not know how to sew before joining her mothers group, but today, she is able to provide more for her family.

"I feel very motivated," Maribel said. "The money I get (from sewing clothes) is an income for my children and me. This is really a great blessing."

At first, the mothers got discouraged because they made mistakes.

"It was difficult to cut the fabric because we were afraid to cut it incorrectly," Maribel said. "The good thing was that we learned to do it with love and patience."

Maribel now loves to sew, which relaxes her and helps her forget her problems.

"It is an excellent therapy for me," she said.

Maribel also benefits from interacting with the other mothers in the group.

"We promote the self-esteem with each other and we find topics of motivation," Maribel said. "We talk about our new projects and we find alternatives. Then, we finish by sharing a cup of coffee."

Creating community

Flor measures CFCA sponsored child Ronald
Flor measures CFCA sponsored child Ronald
Flor measures her son and
sponsored child, Ronald,
for new clothing she has
learned to sew in her
mothers group.

CFCA serves more than 6,700 children and youth through the San Jose project in Costa Rica. The mothers groups started with 15 moms. Today, 2,700 mothers of CFCA sponsored children in Costa Rica belong to mothers groups.

CFCA's efforts with mothers groups in Costa Rica is part of the organization's long-term strategy of empowering parents and guardians to create equity and unity in their communities.

"For CFCA, it is important to work for the mothers' development," said Ana Martinez, CFCA project director for Costa Rica. "We want to recognize their dedication and hard work. They have commitment and many talents, and they are always searching for what's best for their families. They never give up."

Sponsorship provides benefits for sponsored children, but CFCA has seen how improving the emotional and economic health of the mother positively affects the children.

"The mom isn't fighting alone," Martinez said. "The children see their moms participating in these groups and their commitment to the program and to school increases.

"The mother is the role model for the child, teaching the child to improve his or her situation, teaching commitment and responsibility."

CFCA's Hope for a Family program has given these women the opportunity to grow together as a group and as individuals. Through the mothers groups, the women are improving economically and emotionally.

They are like family.

"When they see all those changes happening — the network of support, the family atmosphere, the increases in income — they want to be part of it," Martinez said.

Maribel hopes to see her children healthy and working as professionals. She also hopes the group could someday open a workshop where the mothers can sew, instead of sewing from their homes.

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