by Kelli Ross
Fernando is proud to walk to school in his brand new shirt and shoes. “My teacher said that I look really handsome — I love her a lot!”
María, Fernando’s mom, started a knitting business in Tarija, Bolivia, with the help of a Five Talents’ partner, Semillas de Bendición (Seeds of Blessing), in order to provide her four children with nutritious food and clothing. The first loan she received was for $14.
“She had great talent in knitting, but her self-esteem was very low, so we encouraged her to start a business,” said Sara and Eva Mamani, Semillas de Bendición program managers. “She was quite fearful, but she decided to take a risk because the poverty in her family was very great. Now, she sells beautiful wool ponchos, and her husband is pleased because their sons are the ones who benefit the most.”
Before starting her business, María consistently reminded her sons that she couldn’t afford to buy them clothes, school supplies and sometimes even food. Fernando was wearing shoes and a shirt he had outgrown. “My feet were hurting a lot because my shoes were very old, and my shirt for school was very small — it looked like my younger brother’s shirt,” he said.
Now, María is using her business profits to better provide for her children – one son at a time.
“My mom told me that next time she’s not going to buy anything for me since it will be my younger brothers’ turn,” Fernando said. “She will keep working, and she will buy other things for my brothers with what she earns, and they will be happy.”
Through her savings group, María has also learned about health and nutrition. “Our mom surprises us with all the yummy things that she cooks; my favorite food is a vegetable cake that she makes,” Fernando said.
Now, when 9-year-old Fernando grows up, he wants to be a teacher and a church pastor so that he can help people too.
Established in 1999, Five Talents International has provided funding for business training and thousands of loans, ranging from $50 to $300, in 15 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Each loan finances a microbusiness that, in turn, supports up to six other people. A majority of the loan recipients are women.
Five Talents’ ongoing work is supported by a staff based in Vienna, Va., an office in London, England, and a program office in Kampala, Uganda. Hundreds of volunteers across the United States and United Kingdom participate in the ministry. For more information and to donate, visit http://www.fivetalents.org/.