Because of the financial assistance and education Friendship Bridge provides, more than 22,000 clients overcome hardships to succeed for themselves and their families. But the perseverance of María Tun Panjoj, a farmer in the central highlands of Guatemala, is exceptional.
In 2010, Tropical Storm Agatha hit María’s home in Aldea Xajaxac, Sololá, a small village. The unrelenting storm washed away everything she and her family had, including their home and crops. In the aftermath of the storm, María used her Friendship Bridge loans to rebuild her life again. At 29, with five children, a husband, a few goats and chickens, María works hard every day to grow several different kinds of vegetables. She and her husband work the land themselves until harvest season when they hire others, mostly women, to help. They use their loans to buy seeds, fertilizer, and hire workers. Through access to microloans, María has rebuilt her home and managed to keep her children in school. She and her husband dream of acquiring more land to expand their farm.
María is one of three women highlighted in the Friendship Bridge 2013 Annual Report, which will be available in August. These clients represent three segments that correspond to their development. Through segmentation, we tailor products and services to best meet their needs for a more stable future.
“It takes more than tools and money to escape poverty. To be truly empowered, one’s attitude is essential,” she says.