Our Community - Irma Banegas - "Reaping what she 'sews' in San Pedro"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 13, No. 29            July 31, 2003

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Irma Banegas

San Pedro is not only a wonderful vacation spot, it is a rather pleasant place to live; because of the variety of cultures and the many honest, friendly and religious people who reside here. This week, The San Pedro Sun, is pleased to introduce you to a devoted Charismatic Catholic who moved to San Pedro for all the reasons mentioned above, Mrs. Irma Banegas.

Irma was born in Colonia Guadalupe, Metapan, El Salvador on May 8th, 1958, the sixth child of Catalina Ramirez Gutierrez and Transito Gutierrez. Raised in a large family, she grew up amidst four sisters and five brothers.

After finishing school, Irma learned her first of many crafts - making piñatas, and in 1977, completed a course in cosmetology. Months later, she met the love of her life Daniel Banegas, a man with whom she wanted to spend the rest of her life.

Irma then continued her studies, graduating as a seamstress from the "Escuela de Capacitacion Laboral de Metapan" in El Salvador, on November 20th, 1978. To help support her family, Irma decided to work out of her home and began sewing a variety of clothes for local people. Apart from this, she also put her cosmetology skills into practice by cutting hair, and giving manicures and pedicures.

Two years later, Irma and Daniel opened a small restaurant inside a tourist center situated in La Toma, Quezaltepeque, El Salvador where the couple enjoyed making a living for the next five years.

Irma first heard of Ambergris Caye from one of her sisters, who had lived in San Pedro for seven years. This sister told her of the need for seamstresses in San Pedro and on July 22nd, 1988, Irma and her family arrived on the island to start a new life. For the first five years, Irma was employed by the Ramon Nuñez family. During this time, she and her husband were able to save some money and used it to build a house in the San Juan Area.

Beginning in 1993, Irma ventured out on her own and started sewing for clients. Over the years, she has sewn uniforms for hotels, businesses and schools, dance costumes for the San Pedro Dance Company, as well as bridesmaid dresses and wedding gowns.

On March 30th, 1997 Irma finally married the man with whom she shared so many years. Together, the couple has raised two daughters and one son: Sandra (23) who resides in Benque Viejo Del Carmen, Jimmy (21) who presently lives at home, and Laura (20) who recently moved to Chetumal, Mexico.

Irma spends the majority of her days sewing. In her spare time, she likes to cook and read the Bible. She also attends Sunday mass and Wednesday prayer meetings at the San Pedro Roman Catholic Church. Irma commented, "I encourage people, especially youths, to attend church and avoid getting into trouble; to do something good with their lives and not just waste it, because life is precious."

Over the past fifteen years that Irma has lived in San Pedro, she has made many friends. She takes things one day at a time, enjoying and living life to the fullest, thereby "entwining" her life into the lives of many others in "Our Community".

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