In the Face of Drought, She Harvests the Fruits of Her Labor
In the last few months Honduras has suffered the most severe drought the nation has faced in the last 50 years. Yet, despite these harsh conditions, the women farmers of Adelante are enjoying the fruits of their labor. Through our Agricultural Loan, funds needed for a successful harvest are attainable in small communities throughout Intibucá and La Paz, the poorest rural areas in the Western Highlands. The women here have become better equipped with improved irrigation systems, allowing them to continue to produce despite the lack of rain, and the educational support they receive through Adelante empowers them to improve their crop sales techniques.
The loan has grown steadily since its introduction last October, and we have now reached 342 poor women farmers with over $64,700 worth of loans. It is through these women that impoverished rural communities in the Western Highlands of Honduras have gained access to more affordable, nutritious foods, even while malnourishment grows in the rest of the nation with the drought.
Juana, a 44-year-old mother from an isolated village in Intibucá, has greatly benefitted from Adelante’s Agricultural Loan. Before joining Adelante, Juana never had an easy path. Her father died when she was a young girl, and she had to leave her studies behind to help her mother support her nine siblings. Though she didn’t finish her education, her mother taught her how to work the land. This way, at least they could feed their family when they managed a decent harvest.
She has raised four children in a humble home with dirt floors, sharing the space with her two sisters, nieces, nephews and several other extended family members. Juana first began a small tortilla business with an Adelante business loan for $114 in 2011. As she saw her business take off, Juana began to invest in potatoes to cook for her family. In December of 2014 she was excited to learn of Adelante’s new Agricultural Loan, and soon borrowed $273 towards purchasing seeds and irrigation tools. She then planted more potatoes, as well as plots of carrots, beets, beans, and squash.
“The food we grow not only provides income but it keeps us strong. Medicine is hard to find here. If we go to the clinic and get a prescription we may have to go hours to find a pharmacy that will have what we need. So we use special drinks made of carrots for our eyes, and beets help keep our blood healthy.”
Juana has since taken out larger loans to invest further in her harvest. She is learning new techniques and new crops to plant to improve her sales in the face of the dry spell.
Now she is passing on her tradition of working the land to her children, while encouraging them to stay in school. Above she is pictured with her oldest Jessica, her 13-year-old son who is currently middle school, her energetic daughter Erika in third grade, and her youngest, Noel, who is currently in kindergarten.
Juana now urges other women in her small community to empower themselves. “Help does not come for the poor here, but we find strength through Adelante. In our group we feel like we are not alone in our struggle… there is a shared power that allows us to move forward.”