Monday afternoon I visited several socias from “Banquito San Juanito” and “Banquito Los Chorritos.” On Tuesday I went to the community of Tatar Grande and did some serious walking with Tula. We visited two banks, “La Perlita” and “Jehova Es Mi Pastor.” The cocinas project is in full swing and I was extremely impressed with the changes the women have made to their homes. That afternoon Nora and I went on an expedition (yes, that’s what I’m calling it) to visit “Banquito Las Rositas.” We visited two socias. The first visit was Amparo who joined the bank to begin her pastry business. She mentioned that she new how to make delicious cakes but had never learned how to decorate them. After attending a cake decorating class organized by DiscoverHope she decided to grow her business. She used her loan to buy ingredients, cake decorating tools, and decorations. Her business is doing well and she even mentioned that the she had just arrived from Lima after being hired to bake a cake for a wedding anniversary.
I’d have to say that the second visit was a perfect last interview to end on. Nora and I went to visit Lucia, the former literacy teacher for “Banquito La Perlita.” Because Nora had never been to her house, Lucia offered to wait for us at the bus stop and bring us to see her home. Nora had reassured me that it was a quick walk. Actually, that five minute walk actually turned into a thirty minute test of endurance up a ninety degree incline. I was lucky this time. Since I’d been doing some serious walking with Tula for the past week my body was now adjusted to the altitude and climate. Lucia was so appreciative of our visit and Nora and I felt really bad but thankful that she had served us her only box of peach juice (obviously intended for family).
Lucia joined the banquito to further her sewing business. Unfortunately, business has been moderate but she has suffered a few setbacks because her sewing machine keeps breaking. She continues making jewelry on the side based on the models she learns at the DiscoverHope workshops. I was happy to see her in attendance yesterday at Brad’s second business workshop. At the end of the class, we served the socias fruit salad. I made sure to give her the leftover strawberries and grapes to make up for the juice she served us.
Overall, the interviews I have conducted for the week and half have been so rewarding. All of the women continue to amaze me by their strength and determination to better themselves. Despite their setbacks or misgivings, the socias continue to push on and seek to provide their families with opportunities they have never known. The microcredit loans together with the educational workshops serve as a foundation to improve their economic condition.
Tonight I’ll be on the bus to Chiclayo in route to visit my Peace Corps host family and friends in Salas. It’s been such and adventure and the time has passed so quickly. I thank Maggie, Nora, and the DiscoverHope Family for welcoming me into their hearts and literally into their homes!