Overcoming Isolation


Isabel Choc Cucul, 35, is the primary caretaker for her parents and sister in the remote village of Chinajuc in the municipality of Santa Maria Cahabón, Guatemala. Her sister, Adelina, is 26 years old and has Down syndrome, which makes speech difficult for her.

From a young age, Adelina was isolated from her community because her family believed that as a person with Down syndrome, she wouldn’t be able to fully participate in community life.  She did not go to school and was not involved in any household activities. Adelina’s separation further hindered her development and, because of fear that something bad might happen to her, she never leaves their small village. In addition, she was not given an ID from the National Registry of Persons because they said it wouldn’t be helpful for her. It was because of Adelina’s isolation that Trickle Up and our partner staff at ADEMAQ’K took interest in the Choc Cucul family.


Isabel became a participant in Trickle Up’s inclusive microenterprise development project as the caretaker for Adelina. After making a business plan and undergoing training, Isabel received a seed capital grant of $154 to get started. She purchased the products needed to make bread and cakes and began selling them three times a week to neighboring communities. She also took specific cake orders, which brought in more profits and customers.

From the income she made selling breads and cakes, she put aside $102 to open a small shop buying and selling consumer products.


The store has grown considerably since opening, bringing in a daily profit of $8-$13 with a total inventory of around $250 worth of products.

Isabel has also started making bags and blouses in her free time and customers have even begun to commission blouses after seeing the quality of her work. With all three of these income-generating activities, Isabel’s quarterly earnings have grown to as much as $270,  enough to provide better food and quality of life to her family.


Isabel no longer needs to go out and work as a laborer, picking cardamom and chilies, because of the success of her businesses. Despite Isabel’s growing financial resources, she is still struggling to get Adelina involved in these activities and develop her skills. The savings group began holding their meetings at Isabel and Adelina’s house, as a way to help socialize Adelina.

Since the beginning of the program, the family has seen changes in Adelina, who talks more with neighbors and is no longer afraid of visitors to the house.

Though there is still much to be done to help Adelina integrate into the community, they have begun to see measurable improvements in her development. Isabel has saved a total of $345 from her three productive activities and is using this money to improve their home, though the real benefits of her success lie in helping Adelina grow and develop.