by Rachel Turner
Doña Isabel rested under the tin roof of her small wooden house. She spends her days caring for her husband, children, and two Spanish acres of tomatoes and maize. “I’ve been with Friendship Bridge for five years,” said Doña Isabel. “I’m also a mother of five children. I married at 14-years-old, and had my first son at 15.”
The only girl and the second oldest of nine, she never had the chance to study. Instead she left home at 8-years-old to work domestic jobs in Guatemala City to help pay for food and the care of her younger brothers. There she met her husband at 13-years-old.The only girl and the second oldest of nine, she never had the chance to study. #empowerwomen Click To Tweet
Determined that her daughters not marry so young, Doña Isabel uses profits from her fields to pay for school fees. She makes a point of working shoulder to shoulder with her children to teach the importance of honesty, respect (especially for the elderly), and belief in God hoping they will be good people.
“I’ve also taught them to work hard in school so that they can be professionals and serve their community, ” said Doña Isabel. “I think the most difficult challenge has been finding enough time to lead them on the right path during adolescence, but I think one of the most important things for mothers to do is to support their children’s dreams.”I think one of the most important things for mothers to do is to support their children’s dreams. -Isabel #microcreditplus Click To Tweet
Doña Isabel’s aunt introduced her to Friendship Bridge, and the opportunity to join a Trust Bank, a group of 7-25 women who co-insure each other’s loans and meet monthly for non-formal education sessions.
“Before joining a Trust Bank, I didn’t have capital. If there’s no capital, you can’t work,” said Doña Isabel. “At the monthly meetings I began learning how to manage and reinvest money.”I’m happy because before Friendship Bridge, I only ate my food, but now I can invest in growing our food. -Isabel #dreambig #microcredit Click To Tweet
Later, she rented two Spanish acres, and learned how to farm tomatoes. With her loan, she bought the tools she needed, paid rent, and irrigation costs. Now she has a crop to harvest and sell every three and a half months. “I’m happy because before Friendship Bridge, I only ate my food, but now I can invest in growing our food,” said Doña Isabel. She currently employs 3-4 workers to help her and hopes the market prices stay good. “If Mexico sends a lot of tomatoes to our markets, the prices drop,” said Doña Isabel. “And sometimes the frost kills the plants or they get sick. You win some and you lose some.”
For now, though, she feels optimistic about her future and is already thinking about opening a small grocery store. “Our Trust Bank meets the first Tuesday of the month and we laugh, learn, and share dreams,” said Doña Isabel. “We’re hardworking women who are looking for a better future for our children.”We’re hardworking women who are looking for a better future for our children. -Isabel #dreambig #microcredit Click To Tweet
Rachel Turner is the Global Communications Manager for Friendship Bridge. Having worked and lived throughout the world, she’s excited to now call the foothills of the Rocky Mountains home. Rachel recently visited Guatemala to meet Doña Isabel and other clients working with Friendship Bridge.