02 Jan
  • By Theresa DeSouza
  • Cause in

Meet Tirsa

This month we introduce you to Tirsa, who is in charge of our shipping area, and also an acting assistant to Angela, Director of Crafts. A very happy and fashionable woman, Tirsa is distinct at UPAVIM and within the wider La Esperanza community. Never to be caught in flat shoes, she teeters her way around the hallways of UPAVIM, talking to everyone she passes. It would be easy to believe that Tirsa belongs in a city like Paris or New York, but she was in fact born and raised in Zone 12 of Guatemala City and her life has not been quite as glamorous as you would imagine…

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”1737″ align=”right” size=”medium”]Tirsa’s family arrived in the capital after her family’s land was taken during the armed conflict. When Tirsa was eight years old her family moved to La Esperanza. Tirsa had never received any formal education; instead she worked with her mother cleaning houses and making and selling tortillas. Her mother also never had the opportunity to attend school. Amazingly, at the age of fifteen Tirsa decided to enroll in school and began devoting herself to her studies. She already had her son, Billy, at the time and so life was not easy.

As a single mother, Tirsa worked long hours at a cake shop in order to support her small family and leaving her son with his grandmother each day was very difficult for her. After hearing about UPAVIM from her friend Mayra, Tirsa began using the nursery for Billy, but she was still unhappy having to be away from him until late each night.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”1731″ align=”left” autoHeight=”true”]In 1999, Tirsa left her job to begin working for UPAVIM. She quickly developed sewing skills, eventually becoming one of UPAVIM’s most talented seamstresses. Over time she also became more involved with the running of UPAVIM and is now on the Junta for artisanias. In 2005, a volunteer taught her to drive and she is one of the few UPAVIMA’s with a driving license, making her integral for shipments and deliveries. Tirsa is now in charge of all shipping and exports for UPAVIM. Tirsa has also traveled as a representative of UPAVIM to Chicago and Spain.

“The opportunities that I didn’t have when I was growing up, I got when I was older…I will never forget what [UPAVIM] has done for me.”

Through UPAVIM, Tirsa has been able maintain a steady job and support her two children as a single mother.  She is the proud owner of a house, where she lives with her two children. In 2011 she finished paying off the house – a huge accomplishment! Tirsa has two children, both of whom attended UPAVIM’s daycare and school. Her son is now twenty years old and works in a restaurant. Her daughter, Genesis, just celebrated her sixth grade graduation. She has many hopes for her daughter’s future. Genesis wants to finish basico and then in 3 years, go to carera (high school), and eventually fulfill her dream to earn a degree in graphic design.

[blockquote align=”left”]I like to be able to tell people about what the women at UPAVIM are doing to support themselves, their families, their community, and their country.[/blockquote]

Tirsa is proud of UPAVIM and enjoys having the opportunity to spread the word of her work. She is a model of hard work paying off, and an example to us all that there really is nothing stopping us if we are willing to work for our dreams. She has shown the lengths one can go to get an education and support a family. She hopes to continue working in UPAVIM, but also has big dreams – she wants to continue learning English and one day work as a translator.

Tirsa says UPAVIM is, “a fountain of employment. Even those in the community who are not employed by UPAVIM benefit from its services. They benefit from the bakery, the health services, education in the school, the library, reforzamiento [scholarships] and Montessori.”

UPAVIM in return is grateful for the hard work and dedication of women like Tirsa, who overcome their biggest challenges, proving that nothing is impossible.