The coffee harvest is well under way around the world. Most countries harvest coffee from December to March, and it is a major source of income for many families living in poverty.
Here is an interview with Isabel, a single mother of four daughters in Ataco, El Salvador. She did not continue school beyond first grade, and coffee picking is her only livelihood to support her family.
Two of her children, Dayra and Fatima, are sponsored through CFCA. Isabel belongs to a CFCA mothers group, which has boosted her self-confidence.
Tell us about yourself.
I am the single mother of four children. I feel happy, because I have this huge benefit of sponsorship for my children. I am alone. I cannot hope for more help besides that from the project.
Thanks to Sister Guadalupe, my daughter entered the program in 2004, when she was very small.
At that time, I was experiencing a crisis in that I could not find work. There was no work at the plantation.
I earned $45 every 15 days. And one worries about buying food first. But the sponsorship benefits my daughter receives are great. They even clean her teeth.
Thanks to the generous heart of her sponsors, we can improve our lives. What’s most important is the struggle and the hope we have in the project.
No matter what I need for my daughter, whether a new set of clothes or a new pair of shoes, I tell her, “Daughter, here is what your sponsors and the project do for you.”
I live with my mother, my four daughters and my sister.
When my father died, it was traumatic. My sister was 10. My father was killed. We were left in shambles. We were living in different houses. We did not have a dignified house.
Sister Guadalupe came, took photos and accepted my daughters into the sponsorship program. My mother admitted she could not educate me because it was too big of a financial burden.
I am happy and motivated. I used to be very timid. It used to be hard to interact with the community. But now that I participate in the CFCA mothers group, I have improved.
I work in the fields from Monday to Saturday picking coffee. We depend on the health of the coffee trees, because if the trees are not producing, we don’t have work.
I do not have a school education. At least I am able to work in the fields. At least I can do something to take care of my responsibilities. I work for my daughters.
Did you go to school?
My mother and father had 10 children. And my father worked in the fields while my mother took care of us at home. He could not afford to educate us on his wages.
I finished first grade and left after that because of the economic situation.
What a blessing it is that God has put these good people in our path. I care for my daughters because it is my responsibility.
But the sponsors ó the ones who provide nutrition, health care, shoes and education ó it is a huge help.
I could not celebrate even my daughters’ birthdays. But I tell them to be grateful because they can celebrate a birthday party because of the sponsors’ generosity.
How long do you work in the coffee fields?
I work eight hours, from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., during the season. The harvest begins in November, the first harvest. The harvest gets bigger when the fruit ripens.
How have the mothers groups helped you? How did you become less timid?
Because we received training, we shared and we learned things. They coordinate our meetings. We share the word of God in each meeting. They share information about the children. Now that I am in the group, I go to the office with my friend and feel included.
We share. We decide what our children need. The project encourages us to decide what we need.
Before, we received the sponsorship benefits as they came. Now with the group, we budget for what we need. We make an agreement between the community and the project. There is more trust. This has made me more confident, less afraid of speaking up.
They do a budget for the year and plan their work for the year. For example, she (Dayra) is in middle school. The budget indicates when the project will pay the school fees so she can continue to study.
Editor’s note: Fatima had a message for her sponsors: “I love you very much, and I would like to meet you in person, and may God bless you.”