By María Elvira Caal Tun
Floridalma Elizabeth Canti Bulum is 21 years old and lives in a thatched manaca roof house the village of Xalaja Chivitz, in the north central department of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Due to a lack of financial resources, her parents did not have the capacity to support her studies beyond the 6th grade. The family’s precarious economic situation led Floridalma to marry at the age of 17.
Floridalma now lives with her husband and their three-year-old daughter. However, the young family still faced financial hardship. Her husband does not have a formal income generating job, rather working in agriculture cultivating chili and corn. At times, they even lacked food at home.
Today, as a participant in Trickle Up’s Desde El Poder Local project, Floridalma has learned how to improve her conditions through her own livelihood—raising and selling chickens. Using a seed capital grant of 1,000 quetzales (US $126), she began by buying 35 chickens, which she sold at market. With the profits, she bought 60 chickens and was able to build a larger chicken coop.
As part of the project, Floridalma joined the savings group Las Azucenas, translated in English to The Lilies. Having grown up facing financial hardship, saving is a new experience for Floridalma. Participants in Las Azucenas are asked to contribute 10 to 20 (US $1.27 to $2.53) quetzales in savings during each meeting. For those living in extreme poverty without a history of savings, this is significant money and a demanding behavior change. Nevertheless, Floridalma has saved 800 quetzales (US $101) to date, which she is able to withdraw to cover the needs within her home.
Floridalma’s relationship with the other women in the group has been very important. It is a space where they share how to improve their participation and work as a team. The savings group is also a space to learn from one another and improve self-esteem. Floridalma is also learning from the experiences of other mothers regarding childcare.
“Floridalma is an enthusiastic and hard-working young woman with expectations to excel and have a better future, thinking about her and her little daughter’s well-being,” said Trickle Up Field Technician María Elvira Caal. “For this reason, she longs to have a productive business and strengthen her livelihood.”
Floridalma has a positive mindset and is already thinking about how to diversify and start a new business. Her enthusiasm and dedication is helping her to support her family and to give her daughter a better chance in life.