Ambrocia learned how to embroider when she was just 10 years old.
“My neighbor Emilia showed me the skills,” Ambrocia said. “I remember her words, ‘Learn because you never know when it may come in handy.'”
And at the age of 47, this Guatemalan mom is using the skill she learned all those years ago from a kind neighbor to support her family.
Ambrocia and her husband, Filomeno, have been married for 32 years. Together they have five surviving children. They joined the Unbound program in 2002 when their oldest daughter, Viviana, who is now married and has her own home, was sponsored. At the time, Filomeno worked as a day laborer and Ambrocia cleaned houses to support their family. But even with the assistance they received through Unbound, they still had trouble making ends meet as their family grew larger with the addition of grandchildren. So Ambrocia reached back into her past for an idea that could boost her income.
“The idea emerged from a need; the need of finding a new job,” Ambrocia said. “I used to work far from here, I had to walk for 30 minutes to the bus stop and the pay was very poor. I couldn’t even make enough to provide the basics for my family. One day during a gathering [at Unbound] we were encouraged to start our own livelihood. [The staff] said we should do things that we know and like.
“After a couple of years I presented my idea to Unbound. I said that I wanted to make blankets; this was in August last year. In October I made some sample blankets with the Unbound logo, and people liked it. The local [Unbound] office decided to give a blanket to each sponsored member as a birthday gift.”
The first order was for 220 blankets, and provided the funding she needed to help get her business started.
“I will never forget it. I was able to buy additional material and continue making blankets,” she said. “But I also think that I was able to start because I was encouraged by Unbound.”
Since starting her new business, Ambrocia has also sold blankets with other embroidery designs at the local bus terminal, as well as receiving additional orders from Unbound. Her business is now providing a steady income for Ambrocia and her family.
“The money that we earn is used to buy corn and beans, for children’s school expenses, to buy additional material and I am saving a little bit in a bank account that I just opened,” Ambrocia said. “My small business is helping us so much, I was even able to pay off a loan [taken to build a small room], and I feel good that I can help my husband in bringing up our family.”
Ambrocia shared that her biggest challenge now is producing the required number of blankets each month for the orders. Luckily, she has some help from her family, including her son Fredy, 14, who is currently sponsored by Robert from Ohio.
“Most of my kids help me embroider,” she said. “My daughter Viviana, who comes to visit often, helps me a lot, and also my daughter-in-law Sofia. They help me the most, but everyone else helps me on and off, and together we are able to complete monthly purchase orders. …
“First we cut the fabric to the required size, then Fredy draws the Unbound logo, then we embroider the edges and then the logo. We pack them in nylon bags and we deliver them to the Unbound office.”
With the success of her business, Ambrocia has been empowered to look ahead to the future and think about what she wants next for her family.
“I dream of owning an embroidering machine, I dream of fixing my home, build a kitchen, help my kids finish school and have a successful business,” she said.
And her advice for others looking to get ahead?
“I would say the same thing that Emilia told me: ‘Learn because you never know when it may come in handy.’ And I would tell them to find something that you are interested in and do it.”
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