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Miguelina Padilla

Each year, HOPE celebrates clients who demonstrate HOPE’s values of perseverance, compassion, character, and creativity by announcing the Thurman Award. Established in honor of HOPE’s first CEO and his wife, the Thurman Award celebrates clients who have not only experienced change in their own lives but have also extended that transformation to others in their community. We’re excited to share the story of Miguelina, this year’s honorable mention from Latin America!

On any given day, Miguelina Padilla’s home is a flurry of activity. She operates a busy hair salon and used clothing and shoe store, occupying the front of her home, while the church Miguelina and her husband started a few years ago meets on the side. The church also hosts community bank meetings for Esperanza International, HOPE’s partner in the Dominican Republic.

A strong foundation

Having previously lost her home and business when the space her family rented was sold, Miguelina understands the value of stable home ownership. When the Padillas built their own home in 2008, they could not afford to install a roof, electricity, or a bathroom. But Miguelina dreamed of improving their home and reopening her hair salon, and she says Esperanza came at the right time. She used small loans to purchase salon products and equipment, declaring, “I’m going to work now, doing what I know how to do.”

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Approximately 70 percent of the clients served in the HOPE network are women. In honor of International Women’s Day, we celebrate the remarkable mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, and entrepreneurs making a powerful difference in their families and communities.

When Christie’s mother suddenly fell ill in the middle of the night, an ambulance ride to the hospital cost more than they could afford. And later, when Christie’s pregnant sister-in-law had delivery complications at home, no ambulance could’ve reached them in time. Yet both her mother and sister-in-law made it to the hospital in time because Christie is one of the few women in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, who owns and drives a car. Having the resources to provide for her family’s needs, Christie says, is “a gift of God.”

A few year ago, owning a car was a distant dream. Christie used to struggle to turn even a small profit from her market stand selling fruit and vegetables. Bad weather and fluctuations in market prices often meant inconsistent income for her family. So when she joined HOPE Congo, she invested her first business loan in more stable products like rice and beans. With each loan cycle after that, Christie diversified her inventory, slowly transitioning to office supplies.

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Today, her business is a bustling stationery shop, selling pens and notebooks to students and providing local businesses with copy and print services. With a steady income—enough to send her children to school and purchase a car—Christie has found a new entrepreneurial spirit, saying, “My business is a true stationery shop. … Today, I’m a business woman.”

As the shop has grown, so has Christie’s vision. Having bought two new computers and looking to rent a larger space, she hopes to start an internet café to cater to her existing customers. Beyond her new business ventures, Christie remains committed to her HOPE community bank, driving members to repayment meetings and suggesting new ways the group can grow together in solidarity. She especially appreciates the 20 minutes of each meeting spent in the Word: “The Word of God cultivates love among us. It solidifies the connections between group members.”

Seeing God’s blessing in her business and family, Christie knows where her strength comes from, saying, “It’s the Holy Spirit who equips.” And she is determined to use her God-given gifts, skills, loans, and even her car to provide for her family and bless her community. “We believe that God has given us these things to help us,” she says. “We have to show Him what we do with it.”

art-compDo you know a woman like Christie whose dreams and prayers have helped shape your life? Honor her courage and love with this FREE digital print download at www.uncharity.org!

As a child, Ramona Rodriguez didn’t have the opportunity to attend school or learn to read. Though she refused to let illiteracy hold her back, the challenge cemented Ramona’s determination that her children would never face that obstacle in life. Whatever sacrifices she must make, her four children would go to school.

That resolve propelled Ramona, even as she mourned the untimely death of her husband and the father of her still-young children. As a single mother in Villa Mella, Dominican Republic, she worked multiple jobs—selling cleaning supplies and clothing and tending other people’s homes—to ensure she could feed her children and send them to school.

After several years, Ramona remarried, but her drive to provide never wavered. Ramona’s mother raised her to believe that nothing can be accomplished without the Lord—and Ramona now sees how He blessed her with an indomitable spirit, strong faith, and innate business sense that have helped her become the successful businesswoman she is today.

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By Regan Durkin, HOPE Rising advocate

For spring break this year, I traveled with a group of fellow University of Georgia (UGA) classmates to the Dominican Republic (D.R.) with HOPE International. I’m a freshman at UGA, a part of the Terry College of Business Entrepreneurship Program, and a HOPE Rising advocate. The HOPE trip was designed to expose students to the world of Christ-centered microenterprise development in a tangible way.

This opportunity to humble myself and learn from dedicated business men and women in the D.R. changed the way I view my faith and entrepreneurship. I realized that it’s the motivation behind the entrepreneur that defines his or her success—not the cash flow statement or the percentage of market share a business obtains. Money follows value every time, not the other way around.

Regan and Ana Delia

I had the opportunity to interview and learn from many clients like Ana Dilia. Ana does it all. She makes domestic products like shampoo, creates bags out of recycled materials, and crafts other small decorative items. Beyond her business, Ana went on to tell our group that she is passionate about teaching women in her community how to make these same products so that they can have a source of income.

Puzzled, we asked her,”Doesn’t that add competition into your market?” She reassured us,”Yes, but I don’t care if I have competition. I want to minister God’s grace to those around me so they may have better lives as well.”

Wow. Her passion for teaching made me make the connection that the ability to teach is a characteristic of an effective social entrepreneur because it makes those around you better versions of themselves. This theme of sacrifice and motivation to serve others is unreal. I saw and heard it over and over again while meeting these entrepreneurs in the D.R. It just makes me wonder, what if we took a fraction of this mindset home with us. How would entrepreneurship, or business in general, change in the United States?

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Lancaster-County-owned AmishQuiltShop.net, a retailer of authentic Amish quilts, has teamed up with HOPE International to invest in dreams. For the month of February, the company is donating all of its profits to HOPE.

Store owners Michael and Destiny Bell collaborate with Old Order Amish families who make beautiful quilts by hand. Their work has been featured in National Geographic Traveler magazine.

Amish quilt

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