Clara Ajsoc
Clara Ajsoc

We’ve met a wide variety of women in the last couple of weeks, from Mayan women who speak no Spanish at all and who try to scrape together a living with some weaving and a pig, to fairly ordinary poor urban women who remind us a little more of home, except that to them $15 is what you have to come up with every month for the kid’s school payment.

Last week Nancy met Clara Ajsoc in the highland village of Santa Clara La Laguna. Clara used her Friendship Bridge loan to buy a calf, which she raised, only to lose it to a sudden illness, leaving a young calf behind. But she bottlefed that one and raised it up successfully, and she now sells milk and cheese, where she had no livelihood before. And she wants to get another calf.

Catarina Cox Perez

Caterina Cox Perez

In San Antonio La Laguna, Nancy met Catarina Cox Perez, who lost her house to Hurricane Stan in October, 2005. She has been patching it back together bit by bit, but she lives in a really bad piece of broken house with no real windows, and she has to pile rocks up in the broken windowframes for a little privacy. But Catarina’s big goal with her next loan is to buy and raise 24 chicks. More power to her. There’s the great power of microfinance.

We’ve also met lots of more mundane people, storekeepers and weavers and clothing sellers, who are just battling the day-to-day struggle to pay for their kids’education. For them to come up with those few dollars per month for school fees and notebooks is an amazing battle. But so many assure us that they’re absolutely committed to their kids having a better life. And almost all we’ve met have kids who are getting at least some education. We’ve met many, many women who have absolutely no education. They sign their loan papers with a thumbprint. It’s just the normal way.

Elena Coché and family
Elena Coché and Family

Yesterday we turned up a street out of the village we were in and then off that onto a path up into the hills. It was maybe a half a mile to a set of houses along a creek that were quite a bit more primitive than most we’d visited. Elena Coché, whose family is trying to get buy reselling a few clothes on the street. Their house is of wood, and they have to get water from a “well”set in the side of the creek bank; the kids get sicker in the rainy season.

You can look through all the stories of the women we’ve met on the Kiva site. To see if there are any available to make loans to, click here.

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