Carmen grew up with seven siblings! With all those kids, there was never quite enough to go around. Carmen vowed she’d do better by her own family someday.

But she wound up with four kids of her own – and now one grandchild! Making ends meet in Peru’s economy is tough. Her parents could barely feed all of them. As soon as she was old enough, Carmen dropped out of school to find a job.

After she had her first child, Carmen decided she needed to go back and finish high school. With dedicated work and long hours at night school, she made it! She dreamed of continuing on to college and studying clothing design, but they just didn’t have the money. Instead, she found work helping a seamstress. She worked odd hours around taking care of her children, but it was enough to learn the basics of sewing.

Soon, Carmen had four kids, and her husband left her. Stuffing her heartbreak deep down, Carmen kept trying to make a better life for her kids. They have a tiny house on the side of a steep, barren hill, crowded around with other tiny shacks. Carmen is grateful they have a place to live, but is always scared that the big rocks above her house will fall and crush them – she’s seen it happen to other homes. She still worked for the seamstress, and that little income is what kept them alive. But Carmen still wanted more for herself and her kids.

So, we gave Carmen a sewing machine of her own!

At first Carmen couldn’t believe the news. A brand new sewing machine, just for her? Now she calls it her “gift from God.”

With Carmen’s determination, this one small gift is changing everything for her family. She still works for the seamstress occasionally, but now she’s running her own business as well! Most of the time she sews blouses to sell, and does very good business among her neighbors. But she will also try just about any project her customers can dream up. She’s even started re-soling people’s shoes!

Carmen loves the flexibility her sewing machine provides. She can work from home, which means she can take care of her younger children and her grandbaby while she works! She can set her own hours, and her own prices. With her sewing machine, she finally feels more secure. Best of all, Carmen finally has hope that she’ll be able to build that better future for her family that she’s always dreamed about!