By Agueda Martin

Susana standing next to a 
dress she made for her 

Susana Huaiquimil (33) is a proud member of the indigenous Mapuche tribe from the south of Chile. She is single mother of 3 children. In high school she began studying design but had to drop out due to personal reasons. She worked for 8 years in a seamstresses shop as a clerk, but she always wanted to have her own shop to design and make clothing to sell it. She saved a small part of her salary every month till she had enough to buy her own sewing machine.

“It was a step by step process,” she explained “I was always watching what the seamstresses would do and ask questions. Over the years I saved up enough to buy my own machine.

“For me, this course was absolutely heaven-sent because, before while I knew how to do simple sewing, now I can actually create good clothing with patterns and everything. And with the subsidy at the end of the course I can buy materials I need to get started.  I’m trying to go ahead with learning more about sales, how to present myself and my productlines to clients and running a small business in the classes they give here. I want to buy thermal material and make clothing to sell in the south of the country where it’s colder most of the year and they don’t have as much access to clothing as here in Santiago.


Susana working with the tools 
of her trade

On the issue of discrimination against her indigenous origins she told us, “When other girls or people would tease me or bother me about it, I tell them that this is my families’ land, and was long before they got here. I have an ancestry to be proud of. It doesn’t bother me at all. When they see that I’m not ashamed, they stop bothering me, and usually we can become friends.”

“I live with my mother since I don’t have my own home, but she’ll help me with my children while I get started. I’m very thankful for this opportunity with FEDES, because it has been the next step in my growth to move forward. ”

Agueda Martin, one of the Project Managers of FEDES, a FCF Project in Chile contributed this story and photos.