Tuning her radio each morning to the local Christian station, Yissel Mateo Vasquez places her stereo on the porch so neighbors have the opportunity to hear the Word of God on their way to work. This is just one way she is sharing the Good News in her community in the Dominican Republic.
Yissel often welcomes her first client at her beauty salon before 7 a.m.—women in her community enjoy having their hair washed and styled before heading to work. But many clients come to the salon looking for more than a new style. They come looking for emotional and spiritual support that they know Yissel can provide. Yissel shares that,
There are people who come here and cry; they let out their problems. But it is my understanding that when the leave, they leave with hope, with a new word of encouragement, with a new feeling.”
On Thursday evenings, Yissel’s salon becomes a Casa de Paz, or “House of Peace,” where she and her husband, Omar, host a time of worship and teaching for their community members. Yissel and Omars’ hearts are focused on the youth in the neighborhood, who often witness their parents’ various addictions. These Thursday night sessions give the teenagers who attend a hope that God is capable of transforming hearts and lives. Yissel’s son Allam, 17, and daughter Nathalie (pictured below), 14, actively invite their classmates to attend these meetings and learn about the hope of Christ.
Taking a chance to be with family
While ministry propels her to further invest in her business, Yissel’s initial motivation for starting a salon was her family. Yissel had been working at a salon in the capital city of Santo Domingo, located about one hour from her home. Her commute started before dawn, and she returned close to midnight, having left her children with family members. Her physical and emotional health suffered from this routine, so she made the decision to open her own salon—closer to home and her children.
Yissel started with just a small hairdryer and quickly realized her main limitation to owning a salon in a small town is frequent power outages. With the help of a neighbor, family savings, and a small loan from Esperanza International, HOPE’s local partner, Yissel purchased a generator and firmly establish her salon. Since her first loan of approximately $100, she has grown her business and contributed to her family’s new cinder block home, which has provided them a sense of dignity and place of refuge during tropical storms.
Yissel’s humble start allows her to see God’s provision in every area of her life, inspiring her to steward her resources well to honor Him and share the Gospel with others. As Yissel works to expand her business, she hopes to continue drawing her neighbors to the Lord and see her children grow in their understanding and commitment to God.
We’re privileged to witness so many stories of women who are using financial tools to tackle material and spiritual poverty for their families and communities. Read the stories of these three women of valor.