Life from Maribel’s Point of View

Meet Maribel

Why I care and why you should too.

Imagine standing in an overcrowded bus aisle without any air conditioning on a humid 95-degree day. The bus is made to sit 40, but there’s 75 people struggling like you to get to work, so you reluctantly chose to pay and climb on, rather than wait for a bus that may not come by this stop again. The route over the unpaved mud-covered roads makes for a bumpy trip, so you tighten your grip, clinging to your basket filled of baked goods to sell (making sure you don’t lose any potential profits).

You’re tired. Because your commute takes over an hour, you reflect on your morning—how you woke up early to get your children dressed. You feel remorseful. A few days earlier, you had to make the tough decision to send them to school with a new school uniform, knowing that because of the cost, it meant you’d have to feed them less nutritious meals this month. But you justified this, knowing they’d be fed something, and didn’t want them to be made fun of by their peers at school.

Tired. Uncertain. Making sacrifices. This is an average morning for women like Maribel.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. And it shouldn’t—having to choose between necessities leaves mothers uncertain they made the best choice they could. No one wants to feel that way.

Often times, I meet people who want to help—offering to purchase their textbooks, notebooks, or other school supplies. And although this is a wonderful deed, one has to wonder why the children don’t already have them? Why can’t the mothers afford to buy them?

I spent three months working with mothers and their families in Nicaragua, soaking it all in, in order to understand how I could help these communities. Giving fifty dollars to support one woman jump start her business goes a long way. Women like Maribel know their family’s needs, have a vision and business plan, and have darn good homemade recipes for their business (in Maribel’s case, it’s her amazing tamales).

Women of Ochomogo ready to join the program

When a group of 15 women come together to the training center in Ochomogo, they bring hope for a brighter future, encourage one another and serve as role models for their daughters. Micro-credit loans empower women so that they don’t have to sacrifice, wondering if they picked the right necessity. Mothers can have both, and as they watch their daughters grow, know that they will have options too. We’re working to ensure that fifteen more women will break the cycle of poverty and become leaders in communities. It’s about sustainability, and lending a hand to women who have to make tough choices everyday.

This is why I care – and why I’m writing to you now, to ask you to join in our mission to give opportunities to those who have none.  Help us issue loans to the fifteen women in Ochomogo who want to build a brighter future for their families.

Ochomogo women eager to join the micro-credit program

Check out our new micro-project at:

  • $50 will offer an initial startup loan to a woman to create a small business.
  • $140 will sponsor business training for one woman in Ochomogo to learn how to start her business.
  • $20 / month covers all training & loans for one woman for 12 months

If you want to learn more or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me by email at or by phone at (319) 352-4040.


Jacqueline Steinkamp
SHI Communications & Development Officer