For those living on the vulnerable edge of poverty, just one unforeseen health crisis can set back their progress toward financial stability. The security they’ve worked so hard for can vanish in a moment.
For Cristina Benitez in Paraguay, selling homemade empanadas, sandwiches, and more to her neighbors on weekends was a bustling and effective means of providing for her family. A mother of seven children, she and her husband dreamed of supporting their kids through school so they could secure good jobs.
But a sudden health crisis—kidney stones—brought all of Cristina’s hard work to a screeching halt. The pain made it difficult to walk, let alone cook for hours.
She couldn’t sell as much while she received treatment, but her family still needed to eat. The school fees and medical bills didn’t stop, and her husband’s salary wasn’t enough.
Cristina needed a new source of income, and fast.
Many employers turned her away. “When a person is sick, almost no one else gives you work,” she shares.
Determined to support her family, Cristina realized a sewing business would be her next best option. She could sit while sewing—and bring in more frequent income. Plus, she already owned a sewing machine.
The one thing Cristina lacked to launch her business? Capital. “I lacked all the materials because there was no money.”
Cristina found the support she needed in Diaconía, HOPE’s microfinance partner in Paraguay.
Joining Las Pioneras (“the pioneers”), one of Diaconía’s microfinance groups, she took out a loan to buy needles, fabrics, thread, and other materials to create her first garments. This investment was enough to launch her sewing business.
Now, with a growing business, Cristina can pay school fees and buy materials for her business. She still lives with health issues—but now, she has a reliable source of income that doesn’t exacerbate her symptoms.
In her group with other entrepreneurs, Cristina prays and learns new things about the Bible each week. With Diaconía’s continued support, she hopes she can support her children until they graduate: “I have a lot of faith,” she says.
You can support more amazing providers and parents like Cristina by giving or signing up for our prayer updates. For another story from Paraguay, read how Maria set an entrepreneurial example for her family.