Thursday, September 18, 2008

We found Yaqueline! A quest with a happy-end

It was 2004 when my colleague first met Yaqueline Callisaya. Then, she was a small vegetable vendor in the crowded Rodríguez market of La Paz. She had a “terrenito” (piece of ground) in Villa Adela, a suburb of La Paz, and many plans for the future. Yaqueline has been a FIE client for almost eight years. Thanks to FIE she began a vegetable stall in the market and when banks did not believe in her, FIE did. “Since the beginning they never denied me a loan, which helped me develop my business“. As we arrived to the Cancha Belén area of the market, we walked as quickly as we could to the place where she was seen as last. And there she was! She looked much the same as on the pictures taken four years ago. It was the same stall in a corner close to the street – but there were more than a few vegetables. Her friendly face and smile are even more beautiful in real life. While attending customers, Yaqueline told me that she used her last loan (10,000 Bolivianos) to become a tomato wholesaler, which means additional income to the family. As I took out the pictures taken in 2004 to show them to Yaqueline, the neibouring vendors became so excited that everybody surrounding the stall wanted to know what was going on. “Look, this is La Yaqueline. She has not changed anything!” “Can I also look at the pictures?”“Are these real pictures?” Yaqueline proudly told us that she was able to complete her house using a housing loan. But her life has not been a bed of roses for the past years. Two years ago, her husband, a minibus chauffer, had an accident. Yaqueline was so desperate that she couldn’t work due to stress but she was lucky to receive immediate support from the MFI.“The loan officers are very nice people. They help me in just a week time.” With this loan, the car was fixed, and Yaqueline could go back to work. Her face becomes very serious as she says that without both incomes, they would have not been able to make ends meet. Yaqueline still has many dreams. Besides sending her children to school, she wants to buy a stall when the new Rodríguez market is ready (construction will start by the end of 2008). Her ultimate dream is to open a mini market at her place to work closer to the children. Yaqueline has no doubts that FIE will support her to fulfil her dreams. “FIE has confidence in us, without any suspicions. Such loans bring good luck.” We take the last pictures and we kiss her goodbye. Before getting into the car, I took a last glance to the stall, where Yaqueline has gone back to business as usual…with a big smile. “See you in four years,” I was thinking. Who knows I will be back?

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