A STABLE FUTURE
Victoria Tiul lives in the mountainous village of Pozo Seco in northern Guatemala with five children and her husband, Guillermo. Their eldest son, Selvin, 14, is affected by a physical disability which makes it difficult for him to walk.
“He did not take his first steps until four. I was so worried for his future,” Victoria said.
He had difficulties learning to walk and keeping up in school. Selvin recalls: “My schoolmates would make fun of me, bully me, or trip me up. I felt discouraged and sad but this year I am feeling more hopeful.” Despite the discrimination he faces from children and adults alike, Selvin attends school with his two brothers and has graduated to the third grade.
The family had trouble covering all their basic needs. Guillermo’s work cultivating corn, beans, and cardamom was not enough to feed the family of seven, and even with Victoria’s help, the family could only eat small amounts of corn and beans each meal.
“You can never understand what it feels like to start each day without anything to eat.”
When Victoria began working with Trickle Up and our local partner FundaLachuá, she received $125 to start a business raising chickens to sell their meat. However, after many of her chickens died unexpectedly, she was only able to make back the initial investment with barely any profit. Victoria did not let this setback stop her from starting a chicken-selling business. She began buying chicken by the pound from a passing truck and selling the meat in two communities nearby. She started out purchasing 220-440 pounds a week and now purchases over 1,322 pounds weekly to sell in her community.
Selvin became an integral part of the new family business, recording their costs and revenues. Now, he says, “I’m happy to support my parents because we can eat meat almost always.”
In their first few months, the family sold $1,350 worth of chicken, earning a profit of $187. The increased revenues from the business meant they could now eat more and better meals, buy clothing and medicine, and save a significant portion of their earnings in the savings group. “I’m especially happy that I’ve learned how to save. And now, even though the Trickle Up cycle is finished, I am still saving on my own. I use the money for my family and for investing in our business,” Victoria told us.
Then, Victoria and Selvin’s business flourished.
Sales in the second half of their first year were $6,250. They built a shop, diversified their products to include vegetables, and financed the purchase of a freezer to keep their chicken fresh for longer. Next, they want to buy a motorcycle so Guillermo can deliver chicken to even more areas, expanding their customer base. Selvin, through interacting with customers, has become more confident. He wants to finish school and earn his degree.
“I have seen my son Selvin change from sitting around, being so sad, to a happy boy who is busy at home and school.”
For Victoria, this isn’t the end of her dream. She wants to move their shop to a better trafficked area to increase their profits. She sees the shop as a source of income for her son well into the future, as she plans to have Selvin take over the family business one day.
“Even after we’re gone, I know that he will be able to earn a living.”
Victoria Tiul of Pozo Seco, Guatemala
Chicken farmer, store owner, proud mom