Creating Opportunity. Empowering Women.
by Marcela Pino
Being a single mom, Enoemia Mazariegos has had a difficult time getting ahead in life and providing for her two children. “Being a single mother carries a stigma in this society, limiting their opportunities,” she recently told me over the phone.
Enoemia is a member of the ACODIHUE cooperative in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. She lives in the community of Villa Linda in her parents’ house with her 14 and 9 year old sons. She longs to be independent with her children but has had limited opportunities.
When I asked Enoemia what she thought when the Food Security Coordinator from Food 4 Farmers offered her the possibility of becoming a Promoter, she said she had a lot of doubts.
“I didn’t know if I could do it because I only went to primary school,” Enoemia said. “The women in my community knew me, but I didn’t know how to teach them or if they were going to support me in this project. It also represented a lot of time—sometimes I walk for hours to reach the families that I support in the program—and I didn’t know if the effort was going to be beneficial to me.”
“In all honesty, I accepted because there was a small economic incentive, and I was in a lot of need,” she said. But as Enoemia started her training, a few things became clear. “I realized that I really like working with women and learning about producing our own food,” she says. “I can’t remember a time in my community when we produced our own food. I think that is very interesting. Also, I feel that this project has made me confront my fears and shown me how to be more responsible for my community.”
Before becoming a promoter, Enoemia’s only job opportunity was working on the family coffee plot. She was considering taking her then-13 year old son out of school because she didn’t have the resources to keep him in class. Enoemia couldn’t finish school herself and was hoping to provide better opportunities for her children.
But thanks to the promoter’s compensation she now receives, she doesn’t worry about that anymore. The salary has allowed her to be eligible for affordable housing through her co-op, and she will soon achieve her dream of living on her own with her two sons.
“Maybe the most important thing I learned is that I can, I am able, and I will get ahead with my children,” Enoemia said.
And has her family’s diet changed since the food security program started? “A lot!” she replied. “Now my children are eager to go to our home garden to see what is ready to eat, and there is a lot that we didn’t consume before because we were not used to it, like lettuce, radishes, herbs, carrots and beets. Now we can’t live without our organic garden!”
Through Food 4 Farmers trainings, Enoemia has learned to cook differently so her sons can have healthy meals. Her menu of new dishes now includes egg and herb tarts, summer squash rolls, cucumber-lemonade, carrot salads, and more.
She didn’t want to hang up the phone without telling me that she is grateful to Food 4 Farmers for including people like her as part of the promoter program, because it changed her life, and she knows that it will have a long-term impact for her and her sons Alfonso and Keyber.