The Sierra de Oro family lives in the Caribbean region in Northern Colombia, in the municipality of Sábanas de San Angel in the Department of Magdalena. Factor-H has been working with this family for a number of years. The family was chosen as the first recipient of a new microcredit program, aimed at helping HD families living in extreme poverty. Our goal is to provide aid while at the same time empowering the family to get out of poverty.
Since their youth, Aida and Rafael have worked the fields of this region for the last 25 years, and had five children named Yasmari, Julio, Geidis, Leida y Karla. The youngest kids (Geidis, Leida and Karla) have been part of Program Abrazos since its inception four years’ ago. The region is very poor and the family has struggled with extreme poverty for many years. The kids have been helping their parents in the field since they were very young, making it hard for them to complete school. Factor-H has been working with the three younger girls to ensure they complete their education, as their desire is to become professionals and to be able to provide care for their family and their mother, Aida, who suffers from Huntington’s disease, and Rafael, their father, who suffers from epilepsy. Aida’s father in turn also had HD. When I first them in 2013, they had not seen a specialist doctor and were living in desperate conditions without electricity or running water.
Factor-H wants families such as this to become self-sufficient and get out of extreme poverty. Therefore, we have decided to start a micro-credit program aimed at providing initial financial assistance to allow them to earn a living, which would enable the family to improve their condition. After extensive discussions with the family and our local social assistants in the region, we granted a micro-credit based on their needs and vision for the family. The micro-credit program is managed through the Fundacion de Antioquia and our social agents in the region, and provides an initial donation and a credit to purchase livestock. The credit, which they must return in 2 years’ time, acts as seed capital, without interest, and enables the family to start a small business. We purchased 14 young cows, which they will feed and then sell to make a profit, reinvest in the business, and pay back the loan. The family was an active participant in defining the objective of the loan and how to work together to ensure success of the initiative. You can see some pictures of the family and the livestock we purchased for them.
We hope to extend the program to other families living in extreme poverty throughout Latin America. Providing opportunities for advancement and sustainability is one of our key goals.