Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Stories from the field: Jaquelina, the Queen of Cashews

Jaquelina Silva is a loan recipient of People Helping People Global. Jaquelina and her family of seven work in the cashew business. Each week they buy sacks of raw cashews to clean, prepare and sell. They are quite happy, because unlike most jobs in Nicaragua their earnings are reliable. A buyer from Costa Rica comes each Sunday to take away however many sacks of prepared cashews they were able to process and bag for that week.

Jaquelina took out a loan from PHPG in October of 2010 to improve her cashew business. One year later not only had she fully repaid her loan, but she had improved her business immensely. With more earned income, she now hires two of her neighbors to help her family with the labor-intensive cashew production. Jaquelina commented, "With more hands to shuck, clean, and toast the cashews, we are able to produce more cleaned cashews at a quicker rate."

On top of adding employees to her family cashew business, Jaquelina has also begun to replace her flimsy scrap metal walls with concrete. "It is a work in progress," she says, "as we continue to make more money from the cashew sales we will continue to improve our home."

PHPG is proud to work with amazing people like Jaquelina. She is both a strong business woman and an amazing role model for the entire community. Not only is she improving the lives of those in her family. She's employing others in her community and helping them improve their lives as well.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Stories From The Field: Living by the Land

Future loan recipient, Apolinar, and her two sons
With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is easy to forget how wonderful simplicity can be. Meet Apolinar Sanchez and her two sons, Cristobal and Mario. For the Sanchez family, their livelihood depends on agriculture. All year round, year after year, the Sanchez clan plants, tends, and harvests crops in their family fields. They produce the staple crops of Nicaragua, such as beans and corn.

Behind them in this photo, you can see a pile of dried corn. Their task of the day is to manually husk and shuck six bags before sun down. This task may seem tedious to some but to the Sanchez family it is a job they take pride in, and they really enjoy doing it together.

Apolinar's family lives in a community called Piedras Coloradas. The center of their community has an elementary school and a church, but not a single market or stores. A stream runs behind the Sanchez home. This is their only source of water -- for drinking, for cooking, and for bathing. A bed with no mattress stands in the corner of their home. I did not ask where all seven of the family members sleep.

As I quickly tried to take all of this in, Apolinar's two grandchildren came running home from school and jumped onto her lap. A smile stretching from ear to ear appeared on her face, and she told me (in Spanish), "This land has been in my family for decades. Although we do not have much, we have our harvest and each other. What else could I ask for?"

Apolinar Sanchez is part of our first expansion group in Piedras Coloradas, Nicaragua (about 2 hours by bus from the nearest city, Matagalpa). Her lending group will begin receiving loans in March 2012. If you would like to help fund loans for this community, please visit our donation page and indicate in the special instructions "Donation to Piedras Coloradas."