Single mothers are given a hand,
not a hand-out.

by Susan Dearing

Please click on photos below to enlarge.

Being a single parent presents multiple challenges, and in Mexico, where there is no welfare, food stamps or other assistance, lone mothers have it very difficult.

Statistics in Mexico reveal that 27% of the pregnancies are to teens.  Teen mothers who have not married their child's father are often naive and inexperienced. Most likely they have had no opportunity to get a formal education or learn a job skill. 

Cool and comfortable 100% cotton Typically very poor and without family support, these women end up taking low paying jobs or are forced into prostitution. Even when these moms do get a job, they must worry about day care for their children. Some send their children into the streets to beg. Sometimes there is no father in the picture due to natural disaster, accident or disease. For what ever reason, the single mother may have to deal with shame and guilt, rejection, lack of self esteem, grief and loneliness.

Beach cover-upManzanillo and the state of Colima has several organizations, designed to help the single mother help herself. One of these programs, "Las Caritas," or "Little Faces," teaches single mothers special skills, such as sewing, embroidery, and crocheting. Even better, a mother can work out of the home and take care of her children while making money.

Embroidery detailLas Caritas is church-funded, and brings hope to the many formerly unskilled single moms out there. All that's needed is for the mom to have the will to learn, and Las Caritas volunteers will take care of the rest. The woman will be taught how to sew, crochet or embroider in her home. Everything is furnished, from the sewing machine (which she may purchase on interest-free time payments), to thread, needles, etc. 

One woman may choose to just cut patterns and sew, while another may strictly do embroidery. They make blouses, dresses, purses, table runners, scarves, napkins, tablecloths, doilies, children's clothes, men's shirts, or anything else they want to create. 

Shoulder tie smock They may follow a pattern already in use, or make up their own design. Payment is per piece completed. The mother receives her money before the item is sold, so she's assured of working and seeing a paycheck, while also taking care of her children.

Having her work admired and sold creates a sense of pride and accomplishment. Because she works out of the home, her children see the effort she is making on their behalf, and it strengthens family ties. They, too, can take part in her progress and accomplishments, and at an early age learn responsibility and self-respect. By strengthening the parent-child relationship early-on, both parties will gain self-confidence and self-worth as they master necessary life-skills.

Different patterns, many stylesThe mother often teaches the skills she has learned to her children when they get older. According to the regulations of Las Caritas, the children can only help after school hours. Some adults and children from this program have gone on to study textile design, weaving and related arts.

Once the items are completed, they are taken to a central warehouse where they are sold to retailers. Since there are rarely any two pieces that are exactly alike, purchasers are buying a designer original, and helping single moms support their family. Prices of the dresses range from $80-100 USD; blouses from $35-50 USD. 

Packing purchases For purchasing information, contact Susan Dearing. Everything from Las Caritas, comes with a 100% guarantee. If there is anything wrong with the item, or it doesn't fit, it can be exchanged for anything else in the store. 

When you buy Las Caritas products, you can help single mothers help themselves, and wear beautiful, hand-embroidered apparel. Women's sizes are from 28 to 44, men's up to 46, and all children's sizes. Distributors welcome. Most articles of clothing are made from a natural-colored cotton fabric called "manta."

For other photos of Las Caritas blouses and dresses, click here.