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In Guatemala, church partners with Swiss charity to offer livelihood training

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In Guatemala, church partners with Swiss charity to offer livelihood training

Students enrolled in the Viva Mejor (“live better”) livelihood training program sew their first garment last month at a workshop at Adventist Church headquarters in Guatemala City. The program is sponsored by the church and a Swiss charity. [photo: Gustavo Menendez]

Home tailoring businesses ideal for students who support family

June 28, 2012 | Guatemala City, Guatemala | Guatemala Union/IAD staff/ANN staff

Dozens of underprivileged students in Guatemala City are learning the skills to launch their own tailoring businesses, thanks to a partnership between the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Swiss foundation Advent Stiftung.

The students are receiving training and certification from Guatemala’s Technical and Training Institute through a project called “Viva Mejor,” or “live better.” Sewing and tailoring skills are expected to help the students -- most of whom are women -- support their families, said project coordinator Gustavo Menendez.

“The Adventist Church and the Advent Stiftung Foundation believe that there is nothing more dignifying than earning a living with an honest business,” said Menendez, who also serves as the church’s Communication director in Guatemala.

The Viva Mejor project has already invested more than $70,000 in hundreds of families in Guatemala over the past three years. The 30 students currently enrolled in tailoring classes are the first tailors to benefit from Viva Mejor, Menendez said.

“You will not only receive a sewing machine, but you will learn to sew clothing professionally and make it into a business to better your lives,” Menendez told the budding entrepreneurs at a project launch ceremony last month.

“I feel so excited and thankful for this project, because it gives me the opportunity to work in my own house,” said Mariela Ramirez. The 25-year-old supports her mother and disabled brother, who requires special care. She travels 75 miles round-trip three times a week to attend workshops.

“All the sacrifice that we do is compensated with everything that we learn to earn a living and thus live better,” Ramirez said.

To receive a sewing machine, Ramirez and the other project beneficiaries must complete 188 hours of training before they are certified in August.

The church and Advent Stifung is expected to partner on similar livelihood training programs in welding, cooking, hair styling and more in the coming months.

The Advent Stifung Foundation is a non-religious organization that has run social projects with the Adventist Church for 30 years in Central and South America.

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