I met Erika during our Jewelry Making Workshop in Intibucá during October, our most recent offering from our Product Innovation Workshops. At nine years old, Erika was the oldest daughter of a client at the workshop. As the workshop got started, Erika and her mother Rosa sat with the other women who had attended the first workshop, about a third of those in attendance. While her mother and the others at her table picked out new materials to work with and the newcomers got started with their tools, Erika reviewed the beads and material available and observed her mom and the others as they got to work. Erika’s excellent grades and hard work in school made it possible for her to miss two days so that she could accompany her mom to the workshop and learn how to make jewelry with her.
While shy at first, Erika gradually began to talk to the other clients, and eventually became comfortable with me. As she adjusted to the setting at the workshop, Erika started to stray farther from her mom’s side, taking on multiple roles. In addition to making necklaces and earrings at Rosa’s side, Erika helped the other mothers out by acting as babysitter for the younger kids so they could focus on the workshop, cheered on clients who were having trouble with the tools and even helped me out by taking a few pictures. Although she enjoys helping her mother and coming up with new jewelry designs, Erika’s favorite class is math and she wants to be a teacher when she grows up. With her incredible ability to learn, she also revealed a natural teaching ability. Ana is a new client with Adelante and this was her first workshop. While she struggled with the tools, Erika came over to give her some encouragement, telling her, “You just have to remember to keep your hands still. I know you can do it!”. With Erika’s help, Ana learned to relax a little bit and was proud to show me the bracelet she had finally made when I returned to her work station.
During the two day workshop, I got a chance to meet several inspring clients but was most deeply impacted by the potential that Erika had shown. Rosa tells me that they live in a somewhat isolated area in the mountains outside of La Esperanza and didn’t have electricity until just four years ago. Like her daughter, she also values education and had worked hard for years so that she could finish her high school degree just a couple years ago, while simultaneously raising her two children. Her economic responsibilities also extend to her mother who has become very sick and has lost the ability to talk. To help her husband cover their family’s expenses, Rosa makes tacos, enchiladas and tamales to sell outside the local soccer field during games every Sunday. Since the first Jewelry Workshop, she has begun to implement this new business and has now taken out her second Adelante loan, a much larger loan than her first–about $370 compared to $165. This larger investment signals to me that her new business venture has taken off well. With Erika’s ambition, Rosa’s new business and both of their hard work, Rosa will see her daughter grow up with greater opportunities than she was offered as a young woman. Like so many of our other clients, Rosa knows that it is up to her to shape the future for her children.
Adelante and our clients in Intibucá are very appreciative of the support brought forth by Women’s Empowerment International. Without their funding and support, these workshops would not be possible.