Country Update: Guatemala

Spring 2013 InGear

Doña Marina lives in the town of San Andrés Itzapa, Chimaltenango, Guatemala in the county of San Antonio. Growing up, Marina’s family was very poor. She was never given the opportunity to attend school as her father died in 1980, leaving her with the responsibility of taking care of both her mother and her handicapped sister.

2013springGuatSewingTo help provide for the family, Marina learned to sew. She started out making aprons and small cushions, each of which sold for the equivalent in American currency of one penny and one-and-a-half pennies respectively. Over time, Marina’s skill improved so that she was capable of sewing blouses, skirts, day dresses, wedding dresses, and women’s pants. For many years, she used the same sewing machine: an extremely old, foot-operated model. This made performing the work integral to her livelihood a laborious and protracted task.

However, in the year 2000, Marina received her first electric sewing machine from Pedals for Progress partner, FIDESMA. This greatly increased the ease with which she could produce garments. Furthermore, as a result of the added speed provided by an electric sewing machine, Marina was able to take on many more jobs. Eventually, in 2012, she made enough money to purchase herself a second sewing machine.

Doña Marina is extremely grateful to Pedals for Progress and FIDESMA for giving her the opportunity to own two electric sewing machines despite her low income. She is now able to work much more rapidly and can produce multiple items of clothing daily. Now, with the extra money she makes, Marina can better support her sister and her elderly mother.


Héctor Rolando Sunuc Mututz is a 33-year old Guatemalan who has worked for the Catholic mission, The Apostles of Infinite Love, since he was a child. Born into a poor family, Rolando always needed to make money, forcing him to abandon his education after completing elementary school. With his family having so few resources, The Apostles of Infinite Love took care of and looked after Rolando throughout his childhood. Now, as an adult he is still with the mission and has become one of its key employees.
Rolando is married and has four children. He and his family live in the town of San Andrés Itzapa, 2km away from the mission. In need of transportation to and from work, Rolando’s only option initially was to hire a motorized tuk-tuk on a daily basis. However, considering his modest income, this was not a practical solution to his transportation problem. So, Rolando turned to FIDESMA, a Pedals for Progress partner that distributes bicycles, supports agricultural extension, and performs other services within the community of the San Andrés Itzapa area.

The bicycle Rolando received from FIDESMA and P4P provides him with his own method of transportation for his daily commute. Furthermore, with the goal of him and his family becoming fully self-sufficient, Rolando has acquired some land on which he grows corn, beans, and various other fruits and vegetables. However, the land is 10km away from his home. He is only able to tend to his garden and keep it flourishing thanks to his bicycle that allows him to make the 20km round trip once every week.

Rolando states that he is very thankful to FIDESMA and Pedals for Progress for their bicycle program. As affordable transportation options in his area are scarce, Rolando would have to walk for hours and hours to accomplish what he can instead do quite rapidly now that he has a bike. Above all, Rolando is just happy to have the ability to get to where he needs to go on his own terms.

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