"I get really excited when I get a new idea, it inspires me to keep working and to improve the dresses we make. I have two kids, the ages of 22 and 25. My family is very important to me. They’re my everything. I started to learn how to sew at the learning center and my sister taught me everything I needed to know and really helped me. It’s been 34 years since I learned how to sew and I have been affiliated with W/NP for 17 years, sewing dresses for the Chica Nica project. I wanted to be a part of the learning center because sewing allowed me a job opportunity and I was able to share and create ideas. Like most women here, I prefer to use the treadle sewing machine. I can sew about 12 dresses in a 2-week time span. Being able to make these dresses provided me a very special opportunity when I was struggling to make a living. Being involved with W/NP has also allowed me to grow personally and over all changed a lot for things for the better."
"My family inspires me because I want us to have a better life. I have two children and they motivate me to work so I am able to provide for them. Having the opportunity to work and spend time with my family are all things that are important to me. I help my mother teach at a learning center and I take over when she is not available. I live very far from the Managua Office. I have to wake up very early and take 3 busses one way.
I came to W/NP with an interest in the partnership, the benefits, and the people. It is a good job and the money really helps my family. Children need help and I am able to provide them with what they need better with this job. I learned how to sew from my mother and it’s been about 16 years now. It typically takes me one day to make one dress. I know how to use both the electric sewing machine and the treadle although I prefer the electric machine because it is more efficient and provides a smoother process. I make dresses when I can, I will work on them in any free time and ensure I complete orders. The Chica Nica program as impacted me significantly because it provides opportunities for me to help my family and also provides a good culture among women. To the customers who purchase my work, thank you so much. It helps me so much and I wish you many blessings from God."
Julita has taught many others how to sew at "Munecas y Bordado" (Dolls and Embroidery). She is mother of three, including Karla, who joins her mother sewing. She sews many of the dresses, including the 70s dress, the Garden of Flowers dress, the Points dress, the Princess dress, and the 1st Communion dress.
"My community keeps me inspired. I enjoy helping out with the Chica Nica doll program. Although I have been sewing since 1984, it was life changing when I was able to start teaching a class in 2000. I am so very thankful to Linda as she was like a mother to me. There was a time I needed money to pay for the bills and medication and without her assistance I’m not sure where I would’ve gotten the funds. I typically use an electric machine, but the dresses I make typically have a complex design so I use my hands to sew. Thank you for the help and allowing us to have the opportunity to make these dresses - God has blessed us, and hugs and kisses and good health to all those who purchase our goods and help the program."
Karla is the daughter of Julita, one of the best Chica Nica Doll Dress sewers. Karla sews many of the dresses available and has earned enough money from the project to add an addition to her house.
"I am easily inspired by many things I see in passing and when I see something I like I love to create it. My mother was the person who initially inspired me because she loves to sew and teach. I have been sewing now for 20 years. I enjoy helping her out with the learning center. I have 4 children ages 19, 20, 22, and 23. I consider myself a very happy and content woman and what makes me unique is I know who I am. I live 3 hours away from the Managua office. My specialty doll is the Typical Nicaraguan Dress and it takes me approximately 3 days to compete due to the different colors. When I sew, I use the treadle sewing machine. I prefer this one because I am the most comfortable. On average, I make 10 dresses a week. Thanks to the Chica Nica program, I have been able to obtain my dreams. I can work from home and support my family. To the customers in Wisconsin who buy my dress, thank you. It means a lot to us that you buy them. Best wishes to you and thank you from the bottom of my heart. There is so much love and gratitude for you all in my heart."
“My family is everything. Plain and simple. I have one child who is 27 years old. In the learning center I teach pottery, cooking, and crafting. I was first introduced to the learning center when I was 12 years old from my school. It was very hard for me and I struggled my first year. I have learned a lot since then and I love sharing what I have learned with others. I think it is a beautiful thing to see my school children learn to be innovative. I love relationship building with people and I think it is important to have those relationships, they are possible because of this center and the people and the women who do the work. I live about 1 hour via bus from the Managua Office. I learned to sew when I was 6 years old. My specialty dress is the Atlantica dress. It takes about one day to make. I am able to use both the electric and treadle machine. I have some new ideas for dresses, one of which is the traditional Nicaraguan dress. I want to add my own style to the dress. I have been impacted by the program in many ways; I was able to buy a bed and provide for my family. Thank you so much for the people who purchase my dress. I put a lot of work and love into my garments and I am glad people enjoy my art.”
Lea has earned enough money from the Chica Nica Project to build a kitchen in her house with a stove, refrigerator, and a tile floor and a tile floor in the back porch. She sews the Contrast dress.
Lea has been part of the Chica Nica project for 18 years. Besides making doll dress, she also makes wine bags and gift bags. Lea is a volunteer at the Managua Office since three years ago, she helps with the distribution of donations to the Learning Centers. She also volunteers with the Burn Project making special garments for burn patients, breast cancer patients and others. She is involved as a volunteer with the Verona Library in the community of Los Cedros helping with library activities as reading, hand crafts and baking.
"I have been a volunteer for different programs for 20 years. My specialty dress with the Chica Nica Project is the Coast Atlantic, and I love using the electric sewing machine. I can make two dresses a day when I am busy, I like to take my time with them to create quality dresses. I love the colors and how they piece together, and watching the creation come together as I make it. I have two children and family is very important to me. It is huge for me to see my children succeed, as they also volunteer for the organization. They have good intentions and respect; they are hard workers and families must work together to have that. I am a part of the mobile teaching center- we use what we have are what we are given to help the community. I was given my hands so I put them to work. Not everyone was given the opportunity we have with the learning centers. This organization has caused a huge change in my life. I used to be very timid and shy, but found inspiration and realized I am a woman who is strong. I needed a better life for me and my kids, to advance us and get away from the past. Chica Nica was this chance, and allowed me to grow and get away from mistreatment. I live 2 hours from the Managua office, and I have been sewing dresses for 15 years.
What makes your story unique from others? - A huge change in her life and when she joined this org - she was very shy and timid - she found inspiration and realized I am a woman who is strong. She was mistreated physically emotionally and mentally - she wanted a better life for her kids and needed a way to advance herself and get away from the past - Chica nica was a large change for her and allowed her to grow and get away from the mistreatment. Thank you for purchasing the dresses from us and helping - I really enjoy knowing the wide reach our dresses have - we never know who is going to be purchasing our dresses and it is amazing. A woman is strong - resilient and innovative. We can do anything. Team work and communication are key and so important."
Maria is mother to a set of twins. She has earned enough money to add an addition to her mother-in-law's house. She sews the German, Norwegian, and Angel dresses.
"I believe family is a blessing given by the almighty God and is the center and foundation of society. My family is the root of everything I do. I teach in the Learning Center as an assistant twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Tuesdays, I work directly with the Burn Unit. I take measurements from the patients to then make garments, which helps to heal their burn wounds. On Thursdays, I assist the trainer in everything they need for the class that is being instructed. I can tell that everything I have learned that is being put in practice; all that knowledge I achieved through 20 years of hard work is thanks to W/NP. No other organization has such a large and remarkable experience- just W/NP has it. I knew about the Learning Centre because of my mother, who studied at Niño de Jesús de Praga, a sewing school. A representative from the Managua Office visited the Sewing school and told us about the Chica Nica Project. My mother and I chatted about it and I deiced to join in. Now I am still here 20 years later. My specialty dress is the Sherin and the Cook dress. I can make the Sherin dress in a day and the Cook dresses in a day and a half. I can use both the mechanic and power sewing machines but I prefer the mechanic sewing machine. I have a new idea for an Asian Dress, which is being requested for Chica Nica Project. I would like to thank everyone who buys my dress a million times over. You make me feel so motivated to continue with my job."
"I have 6 children and my family is very important. Family in the home is a beautiful thing. I receive strength from my children and my spouse. I enjoy creating the dresses and have lots of patience to enhance the detail and cut work of the dresses. I live about 30 minutes from the W/NP-Managua office. My teacher at school taught me how to sew, and also helped me love sewing. I think the opportunities Chica Nica provides to women is very special. I have been sewing for over 30 years and sewing dresses for the Chica Nica project for 16 years. It takes me 1 day to make a dress and know how to use both treadle and electric sewing machine. I prefer using the treadle machine because it will still work when the lights go off. I have some new ideas for some dresses but they are still being brainstormed. This program has changed my life and I thankful to all who have purchased my dresses. I really enjoy what I do."
"I am so thankful for Sherin Bowen and Linda Pracht who acquainted me with the Chica Nica program. I used to work for W/NP and I knew how to sew. That’s why I was excited about the Chica Nica program. I learned to sew at the age of 13 from a Red Cross sewing class. After that, I look another course to learn more. Ever since then I have had jobs sewing. With the Chica Nica project, my specialty dress is the Dutch dress. I can make it in about 4 hours. I can use both the treadle and electric sewing machines but I prefer the treadle machine. I also have some new ideas for dresses. I live about 15kms away from the Managua Office and would like to thank everyone who purchased my dress. The money goes to my family as I provide for my 3 children."
Petronila attended a W/NP Learning Center workshop 22 years ago in her community that is just outside of Managua. She was young and out of work at the time, but after learning how to sew she sold clothes in her community. She has continued attending workshops and two years ago started teaching smocking in Managua. In addition to the teaching and continuing to sell clothes, she also organizes the Chica Nica program, ensuring that orders are met and that everyone does their part. She is also one of the Learning Centers committee members for Chica Nica. She sews many of the the dresses for Chica Nica, including the Nellie dress and the German dress.
"Sherin Bowen has been a huge inspiration in my life. I have two children, and family is very important to me. I enjoy spending time with my children and grandchildren, and I am glad my family supports me decision to teach and sew at the Learning Center. The organization has helped many people, and changed many people’s lives. It open up many opportunities for us. I live two hours from the Managua office; I came to the learning center because I felt called to do something, and the learning center is where I felt I fit. When I found the learning center, I also found the Chica Nica Project. I have been involved with it for 19 years, and have been sewing for 24 years. I make the Mestizaje, fiesta, Nicaraguan style - didiemba, Nelly, Norwegian and German style dresses. I use both types of sewing machines, but like the electric best because it is much faster and very efficient. I can make complicated dresses in a day, and can make up to 4 of the simpler dresses in one day. This program has given me a source of income for my family, and provided things I did not have before. There are so many people I have been able to meet through the program, and it has given me many opportunities for my family and myself. Thank you for purchasing the dress it really helps and it has changed many women's lives. They and their families thank you."
Sandra sews the Polish dress and teaches sewing maching repair and maintenance. Recently, she had health problems which prevented her from using the treadle machine for embroidery but she is back at work again.
"I think the Chica Nica Project is great because I learned how to sew and I stand out making doll dresses. My personal accomplishment is that I make my own dresses, my children and grandchildren. I have my own clothes-making business and always have clothes for sale. Another skill that I learned is how to repair sewing machines. The impact of the Project has awakened up the interest to learn in the participants women. Some of them want to make their own products and have their own store. There is solidarity among us and we shared our own designs. The advice that I have for all the women is to learn as long as the opportunity is available, if they all put interest in learning they can be independent and invest their time to free the stress and improve the economy of their homes.”
While I do not teach at a learning center, I am thankful I get to work so closely with my mother. Not everyone is provided that opportunity and we are blessed because we are able to provide for our family. I live 45 minutes from the Learning Center with no traffic but if there is a lot of traffic, it can take hours. I was invited and had an opportunity to learn. I liked working with the machine and that is what brought me here and kept me here. I have been sewing for many years, and have been making doll dresses for 10 years. I have made pajamas for Lynda, using electric and mechanic sewing machines. This program has impacted me significantly- it has given me a way to help my family economically and given us a way to survive. I want to give thanks from me and my family to everyone who buys a dress; it means a lot when someone wants to purchase a dress. Gracias - to WNP thanks to all the women who help - Blessings from God - this program is very helpful to us and we are so grateful!