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Apr 20, 2021

Belizean Women Sewing to Support Their Livelihoods!

As many families struggle to put food on the table due to job losses under COVID-19, many Belizeans have to create their own opportunities.  Fortunately, a recent donation from Taiwan to the Ministry of Human Development is already having an impact in many northern communities.  News Five’s Andrea Polanco takes a closer look at this income generating project.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Sewing is a skill passed down in many households across Belize and it is a skill that women use to earn money for their households. In Corozal, we met women who have organized themselves into groups where they teach sewing and sell their creations to support their families. Women’s groups like the Rising Stars Sewing Place in San Victor Village make uniforms, beddings, curtains and even personalized bags. The Rising Stars and thirty-eight groups across the country received a big boost from the Taiwanese Government of the five hundred plus bales of fabric. The San Victor group received fifteen bales of materials they are now turning into locally made products.


Amarily Teck

Amarily Teck, Chairlady, Rising Stars Sewing Place, San Victor Village

“This group has been helping ladies like single mothers that is good income for their houses; like married couples we help our husbands like right now things are not so easy so it is a good income for everybody. Other ladies come to learn the skill to use it at home and others to put their own business. So, we are doing a great job here in this village.   Every group gets bales. These bags are from those ones. This cloth is what we received so that the groups could manage to sell so that they have an income for everybody. So, it doesn’t only help me. It helps others.”


Andrea Polanco

“How much of a help is this for the group?”


Amarily Teck

“Hmmm a lot! This will help a lot because we have just started to promote the bags and even the chair covers we are doing.”


And that’s what Taiwanese Ambassador to Belize David Kuan-Chou Chien wants to see – that these women are able to turn this donation into something that will help to transform their lives.


David Kuan-Chou Chien

David Kuan-Chou Chien, Taiwan Ambassador to Belize

“We sincerely hope that the donation of the fabrics can empower the women in Belize. Also, foster and enhance the economic development in Belize and facilitate the Belize Government and the people from the recovery during the difficulties caused by the COVID pandemic.”


While the pandemic has created an additional pressure on many homes, these women say they say that they have been able to use their sewing skills to create opportunities for themselves in San Pedro  and San Narciso Villages.


Berta Cobb

Berta Cobb, Mujeres Bonita Sewing Group, San Pedro Village

“Whenever this sewing group started we have a lot of empowerment. A lot of ladies above the age of forty started and I think we have ladies up to sixty years and they are still in the group. We are still working and this helps our family a lot because we make the sewing and we get paid. We have been working a lot during this pandemic with the masks. We have been doing a lot of masks because we did more than two thousand masks for a company. They ask and we make it.”


Andrea Polanco

“So you have been able to use this skill to support your homes despite how challenging it is due to the pandemic?”


Berta Cobb

“Yes this has helped us a lot because during the time there was no job and everything was closed we had the opportunity to work at home; each lady worked at home during this pandemic making the masks.”


Siomara Patt

Siomara Patt, Sunshine Group, San Narciso Village

“You will have the time to be with your kids, especially when you are a single mother. You will be there with them and you won’t leave them alone and that is good. If you sell things you will help them to have a little bit of income in your home.”


And these women’s groups are also getting support from the Ministry of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs. On Monday, Minister Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of State Gilroy Usher and C.E.O. Tanya Santos Neal, along with other government officials, visited the villages to take a look at the products being created and to hear how the women are using them to create economic opportunities. Anna Williams of the Women’s Department says that the project is being rolled out in all six districts.


Anna Williams

Anna Williams, Director, Women’s Department

“To date, I must say that we have a total of thirty-nine women’s groups entrepreneurs benefitting from this project countrywide. We have also looked at training for some of these women’s group or entrepreneurs to allow for quality control in the production of some of the items that they are going to be producing.   We have also been able to do the production of a prototype tote bag and to date all thirty-nine groups have made a prototype of the sample tote bags. Upcoming activities include production of other materials beside the bags; for example, Corozal will be looking at producing chair covers with cushion and gym bags; Orange Walk will be looking at producing table cloths and aprons; Cayo will be looking at producing curtain sets; Belize will be looking at producing sheets, pillow cases and tote bags; Stann Creek will look at producing curtains, table runners and place mats and Toledo will be producing table mats, table runners and place mats.”


The ministry will help the women’s group with marketing to drum up sales for their creations. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


If you want to get in touch with the full list of the women’s group you can reach out to the Women’s Department or you can contact the San Victor group directly at 666-6964 or the San Pedro group at 600-4548.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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