Thursday, February 03, 2005

Reina in Santo Corazon

Reina and her daughters, pictured below, live in Santo Corazon, an isolated community several days away from the nearest town with public transportion. Trucks can only get into the area one or two months a year. During the other months people must walk or ride horseback for several days to get out to a main highway. There are no banks or public offices in Santo Corazon, and only a few small stores. They only have electricity two hours each evening. Before Reina joined the World Concern women's solidarity group called "El Progresso" she lived in a tiny one room mud house. Through this micro-credit and savings group she has gained access to small loans starting at $150. With this loan she bought yarn and other artisan material to begin knitting clothes, purses (like those in the picture), and weaving hammocks. She already had the skills to make these things but did not have the money she needed to invest in materials. As she has progressed in the group the last couple of years she has been able to sell many hammocks to local cowboys who live and work on the surrounding ranches. With the profits she has been able to add several rooms onto her house, pay for her children's food, clothing, and educational expenses, and beginning putting some savings in her group's savings fund, the "banco comunal." She attends monthly meetings where she learns small business management skills and where she is taking a course called "Biblical Values in the Marketplace." The local World Concern field worker, Iracema, makes sure that all of the members of her solidarity groups hear the Gospel message. With a good history of loan repayment, Reina now has access to loans of up to $400 per 6 month cycle. After several years of working and saving, women like Reina, will have saved enough money of their own so that they will not need to depend on credit from an organization like World Concern. It is exciting to see how quickly women like Reina can improve their families well-being with a lots of hard work, and a little help to get going. But the most important change Reina can make is from the inside. Once she accepts God's grace in her life, everything else will be brought into perspective.

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