Patrociña’s community is one of 15 currently receiving support through APROSADSE’s Agroecology Program, which provides loans and training to groups and individuals for income-generating projects, such as livestock rearing. These are lucrative options for families with limited access to arable land. The program also promotes group savings and facilitates monthly technical assistance to each group.
At her neighbor’s urging Patrociña attended a meeting sponsored by APROSADSE. The more she learned, the more it became clear. If she took a loan to buy a cow the milk could both provide her 5 growing children with much needed nutrition. With the income from leftover milk she could send her children to school. And if you were to ask Patrociña about her dreams, she would be quick to tell you. What she wants most in life is to see her children go to school.
Few cars make it down to El Carmen, Patrociña’s tiny community of 30 families. There are no paved roads. Patrociña has a long and dusty walk to market in San Martín Jilotepeque. Even there staples like eggs and milk and fresh produce are often too expensive. Her family lives on a small, arid plot of land in a 2-room house, the walls patched together with maize stalks and steel plates.
Patrociña never envisioned she would be able to support her family on her own. But through a combination of small loans and technical training in livestock rearing, she has discovered an innate sense for business.
In her group meetings, Patrociña is always the first to speak up; ready to share how she is maximizing her original investment. First, she sold her original cow. With the proceeds, she paid back her loan and bought another cow. She was able to sell that cow and buy a bull, which she calculated would yield an even higher profit at market.
Her children are growing strong on the milk they have to drink. Plus her cow is also providing enough milk she can sell it to neighboring families. And, as she will proudly tell you, she can now afford to purchase uniforms, school supplies and pay for tuition for her 3 eldest school-age children.
Patrociña is not content to stop there. Her entrepreneurial spirit has encouraged her to expand her micro enterprise by making cheese. She has also begun to use organic and free fertilizer (from her cows) for her two plots of the local chayote squash. In a short time, she has watched her income grow from zero into a steady stream.
Though her new life is busier than ever, Patrociña finds time to attend health-training workshops at APROSADSE’s main office and returns motivated to extend her newfound tips in nutrition and family health to the rest of the women in her community.