Stories of perserverance, courage and success are a monumental driving force behind the Agros mission. Through a little bit of faith and a lot of hardwork, these amazing people have ended the cycle of poverty in their families and villages. Below, you will find a collection of inspiring stories of individuals who have overcome all odds to reach prosperity and to achieve their dreams.
This spring, with your help, we partnered with 50 families to lauch La Bendicion, our first new community since Tierra Nueva. “I’m so happy to be here,” says Walter, one of the founding partners of La Bendición. “This is a fertile land … We know that if we plant corn we will harvest corn and if we plant beans we will harvest beans. It is a blessing. I feel happy and at peace here.”
We partnered with Engineers Without Borders this year to build a beneficio so families can efficiently depulp, ferment, wash, and dry their own coffee. The more farmers process their coffee, the higher a price they can command in the market for their crop. Plus dried coffee beans can be sorted by quality and size, allowing farmers to sell their best beans for a premium.
Advances in technology like this beneficio leverage community resources to help farmers move up the value chain from survival subsistence farming to profitable and dignified agribusiness ownership.
Five years ago, farmers in Piedra de Horeb like Germán were forced to work for giant haciendas, without any control over their futures. Now, well-organized, they've created their own sustainable, registered and profitable business. They consistently supply in-demand tilapia to markets that guarantee a steady income. That stable income, combined with safe housing, healthcare access, and education for their children, has changed the trajectory of these families' lives.
Witnessing the success of Piedra’s small scale business operation is an encouraging and promising glimpse at what the future can look like for all of our communities if we implement this market-driven strategy on a much larger scale in 2016.
When Carlito was born, his mother Yaris knew breastfeeding was crucial to ensure healthy development. But her milk made him sick. Agros staff helped Yaris identify that Carlito was allergic to breast milk and taught her how to use a powder to make soy milk instead. It worked. Carlito’s chubby cheeks are evidence of Nueva Esperanza’s 0% rate of child malnutrition – the result of a holistic program of maternity support, child weighings, nutrition training, and help accessing resources like powdered soy milk for Carlito.
The proof is in the pudge – Carlito is one of more than 50 healthy children in Nueva Esperanza, where your support has eradicated child malnutrition.
Unlike many of the residents of Agros’ Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) village—located in northern Nicaragua, in the Matagalpa region—Jose Antonio Valle Sanchez (33) was familiar with the tasks and process of growing and harvesting coffee. In fact, he had worked the very same land as a day-laborer for the previous owner. “I worked for the old owners of this farm,” he remembers. “For seven years, I worked for these fields,” he says.
Few, if any, can testify to the transformation these lands have seen since it became an Agros village in 2008. Julio Lopez Hernandez, a fellow partner who was part of the Nueva Esperanza project from the beginning, remembers how the first year the partners harvested the coffee from the existing plants together. Collectively, the 344 acres produced 11 tons of coffee. Just a couple of years later, that same farmer was able to harvest nearly 6 tons of coffee off just his plot of land (about 10 acres).
What Henry Hopkins, 35, lacks in stature, he more than makes up for in personality and determination. The small, energetic man is not afraid of hard, physical work or responsibility. He will do whatever is necessary to be able to provide for his family: his wife, Maria, as well as three sons and two daughters.
“Life has always been hard for us,” he says, matter-of-factly, as if he never expected anything else. Hard work and poverty are all Henry had ever known. He was born into a family of day laborers. Both his mom and his dad worked other people’s land and lived in rented or loaned structures wherever they could, “posando”.
Life was difficult, but bearable, for Henry until his parents separated when he was 10. To this day, he can’t talk about that time without tears welling up in his eyes and his voice beginning to quiver.
He worked as a day laborer. The work was difficult and demanded that he be separated from his family (who stayed in a plastic shelter near his mother’s house) and the pay small. “I earned about $2 dollars a day,” he remembers.
Although he didn’t know how it could ever happen, Herman never lost hope. “We worked hard,” he remembers. “[We dreamed] that one day we would buy a small piece of land where we could build a house and live in better conditions,” he said.
At 47 years old when he first joined Agros’ Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) village in Northern Nicaragua, Pascuel Perez Hernandez (now 52) was one of the oldest partners. But, he didn’t let his age or his lack of experience growing coffee get in his way.
“I came here to learn,” he says. After a lifetime of struggling to survive and feed his family through the production of corn and beans, “renting land from and working for the rich,” Pascuel had managed to have a small plot of land he could call his. Poor health, medical bills and unexpected expenses, however, forced him to sell his cultivatable land. .
When the Agros staff invited him to be part of the project, he was hesitant at first. It wasn’t until they asked again and he came and visited the land where the Nueva Esperanza village would be located that he felt the project could indeed bring “new hope,” to his family’s life; as the village’s name suggests.