Juana married young and was blessed with 3 sons and one daughter. As the needs of their family grew Juana’s husband got a job with an exporting company. They saved part of their income and were able to buy some land for them to farm and sell the produce for extra income.
Unfortunately, around this same time, Juana’s husband began drinking heavily and ignored their family. It was up to Juana to provide the means to feed their family and send them to school. She did this while continuing the run their small farming enterprise. Eventually, her sons decided to leave school to help Juana with running the farm.
Juana needed extra support and help. She didn’t know how to properly run a business. She didn’t understand the need for tracking expenses and income. She didn’t know how to properly price her produce to be fair and competitive. She needed a truck to get her produce to market.
Mentors International in Guatemala was there to support Juana. To mentor and teach her the skills she needed to improve her farming enterprise. A small micro-loan helped her get a used truck, and then after that was paid back, a small loan was invested in irrigation supplies to help water her crops during the dry season allowing Juana to get two harvests, doubling her income.
Catastrophe arrived with Hurricanes Stan and Mitch. Juana and her farm were hit hard. She had to sell their car and some of their land to be able to survive.
Juana describes Mentors International as giving light during a dark stage of her life. She has since been able to wisely manage to pay back all of her debts. She feels like she has better control of her operations.
Today her daughter has emigrated to Canada, but her sons are still close and help work the farm. Her family has grown and today she has three grandkids to share her love with.
Juana has started saving again and has about $450 USD in her account. Although her income is lower than before because of the pandemic she is optimistic about her family’s future. She is grateful to her friend and Mentor Maria Del Carmen who has been there during the good times and the bad.
The story of Juana’s is very similar to many other Guatemalan mothers who strive and work hard. There are many challenges and roadblocks placed along their paths, but they never give up.