02 Jul
  • By Theresa DeSouza
  • Cause in

A Day in the Panaderia (bakery)

Meet Lili

Lili Perez is the definition of perseverance and hard work. Full time mother of six and full time employee of UPAVIM, her days are filled with selling bread in the UPAVIM bakery, making lunches for her kids, and sewing UPAVIM artisan products.Lili_Sewing3

Lili started working at UPAVIM in 2002. She was eight months pregnant with her fifth child when her husband was shot and killed just outside of the UPAVIM building. She was left a single mother with no way of supporting her growing family. Just after the death of her husband she started working at UPAVIM as a sewer. Her first months at UPAVIM were painfully difficult as she only made about $15 per month. As the UPAVIM artisan program grew, more work became available and she was able to earn more and more money each month.

[blockquote align=”right”]UPAVIM is nothing less than a second home for me and for my children.[/blockquote] Then, she applied for an opening to be a full time employee in the UPAVIM bakery. Due to her dedication, hard work, and very personable character, she got the job and has been selling bread in the bakery ever since. Lili is always the first person to arrive at UPAVIM at 5:30 a.m. and the last person to leave at 7:00 p.m.

A typical weekday for Lili starts at 5:00 a.m. Her morning hours in the bakery are 5:30 to 9:30 a.m. After finishing up in the bakery she heads upstairs to sew until 2:30 p.m. Then back down to the bakery to sell from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. In addition to her hours at UPAVIM, she also has hours of work everyday in her home caring for her children, cleaning, washing all the clothes by hand, cooking, and helping her younger children with their homework.

Despite a number of challenges and hardships that Lili has worked to overcome in her life she continues with an attitude of perseverance and hope. Lili’s youngest son, Juan Fernando had a series of seizures just after birth that lead to a serious stroke. He was hospitalized for months during the time Lili was just starting work at UPAVIM. Currently, at the age of 13, he still has at least one seizure per month. To keep his seizures under control Lili has to purchase about $100 worth of medicine per month. $100 per month for medicine for one of six children is an almost unbearable cost for Lili who works hard to send her kids to school and keep food on the table.Lili_Bakery2


In the face of many difficulties, Lili expresses so much gratitude for the opportunities she has been able to take advantage of at UPAVIM. She has a full time job in the same building where her two youngest children attend school. She is able to be around and care for her children while also working long hours. Two of Lili’s children receive scholarships from the UPAVIM Scholarship Program. Lili’s fourth child, her daughter Carolina is studying at a private institution to become a physical education teacher. Without her scholarship from UPAVIM, Carolina would not have had such an opportunity. With tears in her eyes, Lili smiled and said, “UPAVIM is nothing less than a second home for me and for my children”.