School Uniforms Clothe Children, Create Employment
Thanks to a special designated donation for school supplies and school uniforms to start the new school year, and the support of GlobalGiving donors, Self-Help was able to ensure that students of Treinte de Mayo School and students that are children of women in the Micro-Credit Program were able to get the clothing they needed to start the school year, while supporting the local economy and micro-credit beneficiaries.
Treinte de Mayo is a particularly depressed shantytown located outside of San Carlos, Nicaragua. There is limited running water and very few families are able to afford school uniforms for their children to attend school. Self-Help saw the need in this community and helped to build a school for pre-school, kindergarten, and first graders to attend since the nearest school was too far away for these young children to walk to.
Adelina is from Las Azucenas and is a single mother, with one daughter still living at home. Adelina is one among the 125 women that benefit from SHI’s Micro-Credit Program in Nicaragua. Adelina is arguably the most gifted tailor among the 125 women and uses her expert sewing skills to earn a living by operating a small sewing business out of her home. Her sewing and tailoring business offers bags and children’s clothes, among other items.
When we received a request for a bulk order of school uniforms for Treinte de Mayo, we knew just who to go to: Adelina would be in charge of the production with her demonstrated skills and talents. When we explained the opporunity, she agreed immediately and grew excited right away because this was such a great chance for her to not only prove that she was capable of completing an order of this size but also because of the profits and improvements it would bring to the lives of her, her assistants, their families, and the community as a whole.
Adelina’s business was too small and her capital too little to complete such a large order without a downpayment, so a portion was paid to her up front. As soon as the money was available, Adelina visited the Self-Help International San Carlos office and went with our team to Treinte de Mayo School, as well as all of the homes of the children whose mothers are in the micro-credit program, to take measurements for the uniforms she would sew. Later on that week, she traveled to the main market in the capital of Nicaragua, Managua, to purchase the required materials to begin production, which has the best rates in the country even factoring in transportation expenses. Knowing she could not do it all alone, Adelina also hired three women from her community (two of them to help sewing and the other to help by ironing each piece) in order to have the uniforms ready in about one month. In total, they need to make 300 items of clothing, including skirts for the girls, pants for the boys, and unisex blouses.
The four women worked in Adelina’s living room with three pedal sewing machines. Each piece was then ironed, packaged, and labeled with each student’s name to avoid any possible confusion. The women were extremely careful and professional of course. This attitude had already been instilled in the women through each of the training sessions provided by the Self-Help International staff. The women demonstrated personal growth and also proved that they are indeed putting into practice what they have learned while being a part of the Self-Help International Micro-Credit Program.
After delivering the uniforms and getting the final payment, Adelina divided the profit amongst all four women. With her profits, Adelina purchased a better quality iron for future works, a pair of shoes, a uniform, a cell phone for her daughter, and one pig. When this pig is grown, she plans to either sell it for a profit or to eat it for Christmas celebration.
The other three women (Carmen with two children, Erlinda with two boys, and Lorena two children) used their earned share of the profits to support their house needs and, like Adelina, they also purchased their children uniforms and shoes for the Independence Day celebration. Erlinda even had enough money leftover to repair her kitchen roof that was in bad condition.
All in all, a lot of people benefited from SHI supporters’ gesture of goodwill. Ninety-two students from Treinte de Mayo School and 60 students that are children of women participating in SHI’s Micro-Credit Program received new school uniforms for the school year that they would not have had otherwise. Children and youth of these rural community areas needed SHI’s help most, but the entire community came together and benefited from the project.
Adelina and the other three women are thankful for all of the people with good hearts that made all of this possible for people they don’t even know but felt their human needs and shared part of them with love and goodwill. “Thank you so much” said Adelina and the other three women. They are investing in things now that otherwise would not have been possible without SHI’s intervention. Adelina added, “We are woman who love to work usually we don’t have a great chance like this one to help in the growth and empowerment of our community.”
Adelina is proud that she was the one chosen to do such a large order of uniforms. This job enabled her to reinvest her profits back into her business and substantially expand the amount and sizes of orders she can fulfill, which in previous years would not have been feasible. Usually Adelina, and other tailors, have busy seasons during the holidays, but otherwise only have seldom work such as repairs. Due to the Micro-Credit Program, Adelina profits enough to provide for her and her daughter, even during the lulls.
“Thanks to all the people behind this good action,” beamed Adelina. “May God bless all of you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping our children because we all know that they are the future of our country. If we can’t afford to send our children to school, there’s no hope for a better future, but because of people like you we are still hoping for a better future. Thank you!”
Help us continue to serve more women like Adelina. Please consider making a recurring monthly donation to Self-Help International. Just $10 per month would fund two micro-credit loans every year!
Self-Help International’s micro-credit program is consistently expanding in Nicaragua’s Department, Rio San Juan. As of July 2015, Self-Help has distributed loans to over 110 women, who use the money to pursue entrepreneurship and start their own businesses. The funding gives the beneficiaries the opportunity of economic self-sufficiency, providing them outlets to use their skills and talents in mediums that can yield tangible profits. This report focuses specifically on two micro-credit groups within the municipality of San Carlos. The first group from the pueblo of Cruz Verde consists of seven women who have been active in the micro-credit program, engaging in training and accessing loans, since November of 2013. All are steadily growing their small businesses. The following group comes from the neighboring village of El Empalme de Cruz Verde, and consists of nine women who have been involved with the program since August 2014.
The women from both communities have taken out several loans from Self-Help International, each of which must be paid back before a new loan is issued. Participants from both communities have consistently paid back their loans, including the minimal acquired interest, and subsequently requested new loans of greater value to maintain continued expansion of their various enterprises. They serve as ideal examples of the benefits of micro-credit lending, earning enough to support their families while responsibly managing their debts. Additionally, many are using their businesses as a means of educating, teaching their diverse trades to either new employees or other mothers and children interested in learning. This shared knowledge is one of the many advantages that Self-Help’s program has created in these various Nicaraguan communities.
Francisca, the leader of El Empalme de Cruz Verde, took the initiative to connect with members from Cruz Verde’s micro credit group, in the hopes that the women from each community could each share some of their skills in an open-forum seminar. Many of the skills/trades, such as preparing jams, piñatas, funeral wreaths, cakes, baked/cooked goods, and others, were learned in various training sessions hosted by Self-Help International. To create a fun and collaborating atmosphere for the seminars, Francisca even used a portion of her profits to host a cooking class at El Empalme de Cruz Verde. After the class, participants ate in celebration of a group member’s birthday (pictured below)!
In addition to learning skills at these seminars, women are able to compare notes on good business practices during this meetings. For example, Vincenta has had more success selling her product door to door in her community, while Francisa sells the various baked goods from a small storefront. Both have become popular treats in their pueblos.
The series of photos below depict the products that micro-credit participants have learned to create and sell. They include: a cooking class that Francisca hosted; Cake and pastries made by Francisca and Vincenta, and piñatas and funeral wreaths created by women and children from the two communities. The piñatas are sold for various events, including birthdays, church ceremonies, and graduations. Women and children from both communities similarly make funeral wreaths. They use the proceeds from their labors to provide for their families, then to reinvest in their businesses.
As the groups now seek to collaborate for the sake of mutual betterment, they embody the self-sufficiency and empowerment through education that Self-Help International strives to promote. Though the first meeting only consisted of three attendees, it has since grown to an average of nine participants, with meetings taking place as often as twice a week. Many women bring their daughters so they can begin learning the nuances of the different businesses and share in mutual success.
Thank you for your generosity, which is making micro-loans and learning opportunities such as these possible for the women of Cruz Verde, El Empalme de Cruz Verde, and many other Nicaraguan communities.
Adelaida sells freshly cooked food from her home along with other work on the side for extra income. Self-Help Staff interviewed her and her neighbor wrote out her story, as she is unabe to read or write. However, the words are those of Adelaida. Adelaida is a very entrepreneural worker who tracks her income and invests as much as she can.
In the community of Laurel Galan, a seven minute drive from the Self-Help office in Quinta Lidia, live 18 women who make up four groups in the Micro-Credit Program. One of these women, Adelaida, has been part of the Micro-Credit Program since November 2013. Her 17 year old son is in his thirdyear of high school and helps Adelaida with chores around the house, with her small business and he is also tutoring a local woman in reading and writing.
Adelaida just received her third loan last week. With the first loan, she was able to replace her old, small cooking pots with new, larger pots. She runs a small eatery on the side of the road and her specialty is Nacatamals, which she makes on the weekends, and also her chicken or beef soup. In the evenings, she sells tacos, enchiladas and French fries. Adelaida says her busiest days are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, because on those days, the buses pass her eatery on the way to the market. She makes healthy and rich food in a clean environment, so many of the buses stop by, bringing customers.
For the past four months, Adelaida has been selling jewelry in the local communities, when she has extra time. If she doesn’t have the time, she sends a trusted family member or friend who then receives five percent of the sales. Earnings vary because when she travels to Costa Rica she receives a larger income due to exchange rate factors. She also delivers rice, oil and soap to local communities for extra income. With her earnings, Adelaida is improving her business and she saves any extra money in the community bank, a bank run by 42 women in Laurel Galan.
Adelaida is thankful and very motivated because the program has supported her through training classes, in which she has learned a variety of skills that she uses in her business. She is also thankful for the donations from Self-Help, such as the small papaya plant and the maracuya fruit plant, because now she can use the fruits to make juice. She would like to thank all the people who support the program, which for her, has been a huge help. She plans to continue with the program because she has not only received access to low cost loans, but she has improved her personal skills and knowledge. She is also thankful to the organization and donors who understand that Nicaragua is a country with great poverty, but a strong spirit and great hopes to improve.
Your support has enabled Adelaida, and other motivated women like her, to earn money to support their families. Thank you for your generosity.
In March 2015 Self-Help staff interviewed two business partners from the Laurel Galan community, Emma and Julia. The women later wrote their stories, in their own words, in an effort to share their hard work and express how they have benefitted from Self-Help's Micro-Credit Program.
Below we have shared the translated letters from Julia and Emma. We have also included a photo of Julia's original letter.
Your support has given women like Julie and Emma the confidence to start and grow their own businesses. Thank you for your donation.
My name is Emma, I’m 33 years old and I live in the Laurel Galan community. Laurel Galan is about 3 km from the Self-Help office in Quinta Lidia. I’m a beneficiary in the Micro-Credit Program and I’ve been in the program since November 2013. I just received my third loan of $100USD. I invested the first loan in my business by buying tools and materials to open a bakery. The tools included a beater, 4 cookie cutters and some food coloring, all of which I was unable to afford before the loan. When I received my second loan, I teamed up with another woman in the program who lives nearby; we combined our loans and together we opened a small eatery. The majority of our customers are workers who stop by between 2:00pm and 9:00 or 10:00 at night. We make enchiladas, repochetas, fried chicken, grilled meat, fried dough, buñuelos, candies and chicken soup. With our loans, we bought materials that were of high priority in our new business, like a meat presser,a drip pan, two ladles and a draining spoon. Again, with our third loan, we purchased supplies to further grow our business. Specifically,we bought 2 pails,a grater,and 3 seats and a table.
I feel very content and thankful to be part of a program that has provided us the opportunity to follow our entrepreneurial spirits, and that continues to motivate us to better our small businesses. Through the program we’ve also been able to learn various skills such as business administration, how to make jams andwreaths, how to start and maintain a garden and many more.
I’m thankful to all the donors who support this program in our country and who understand that we are hardworking, entrepreneurial women with powerful wishes to better the lives of our families.
My name is Julia and I’ve been a participant in the Micro-credit program since November 2013. I live in Laurel Galan, a community about 5 minutes from the Self-Help office in Quinta Lidia. I’ve received 3 loans now. With the first loan, I bought zinc for my home and, with the remaining money, I bought supplies for my business. With my business partner, Emma Mondragon, a local professor and friend, I sell enchiladas, tacos, fried dough, repocheta and meats off the grill. The second loan provided the money we needed to buy more supplies to improve and grow our business, like two large cooking pots. We used the third loan to buy 3 seats and a table. By combining our money, we are able to buy supplies and continue to expand our business. We feel very proud and motivated to be a part of this program because, not only do we receive loans, but we have learned so much in the associated training classes. Using the skills we learned in Self-Help trainings, we have been able to grow and maintain our home gardens, which have benefitted us greatly. We are also very thankful to all the donors who support us here in Nicaragua and who never forget that we work hard and have a great deal of appreciation. Thank you to Self-Help and all of its supporters.
Primitiva is a 39 year old woman from the Las Azucenas community. She has two sons who help her with chores around the house. Her oldest son cuts oranges for a company called Naranjera and with the little that he makes, he supports the family and pays the home expenses. Primitiva suffers from a disease called psoriasis that is carried through the blood and slowly eats away at the skin, causing flesh wounds. By the end of last year, it got so bad that she was not able to work anymore on her bakery business and instead it was her son who took over the business and baked to afford the house.
Primativa came to the women’s health training on Nov. 27, 2014 and explained to SHI staff that according to the doctor her problem could be cured if she takes the proper medication, care and rest. The problem was that the medication she needed was too expensive for her to afford. I went with Self-Help’s micro-credit officer, Yolanda, to San Carlos to follow up on the medications in the doctors prescriptions and went to two different pharmacies and found that the medications would cost $500.
With Self-Help’s assistance, Primativa was able to receive a donation of $500, enabling her to purchase medicine to treat the disease. We recently visited Primativa at her home and she is getting better and better each day. Already, the wound, which was once extremely deep, is becoming significantly smaller. Primitiva feels very happy and is thankful to Self-Help and to those who have donated, because with all the support, she is healing and becoming stronger. She is excited to get back to work so she can earn profits to contribute to her family again.
Your donation has helped Primativa, and many women like her, improve their health and quality of life. Thank you for your generosity.
*Note: To protect Primativa's dignity and because the problem was severe and images may upset sensitive readers, the photos included only show Primativa after she had received medical care.
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