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All Real Stories

Meet some of our incredible women!

María Rafaela Salazar

Lori Connell

 Maria Rafaela Espinal lives in the village of Los Pinos.  Maria is happily married with 3 daughters.  Her husband works hard but has an illness that has kept him from consistent work over the years. Maria is a member of the local church and we first met Maria through the work of Torch Missions when Maria and her family were living with Maria's mother. They had a piece of land but were having trouble saving money to build their own home.  Mark Connell's Torch group was able to build them a concrete block house. Maria began training at the Mi Espernaza house as part of our sewing class. Maria wanted to gain a skill she would be able to use to help her family with consistant income. Maria quickly rose to the top of the class as one of our best students. She was eager to learn and was always in class.  Maria graduated with her class and because of her skill and ability was asked to stay on and take a second level of training. Maria is very grateful for the opportunities Mi Esperanza has given her and many women of "low levels of opportunity". She is particularly grateful for what these opportunities will mean to her girls.

María at a glance

  • Age: 39
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Children: 3
  • Community: Los Pinos
  • Mi Esperanza Course: Sewing level 1 and 2, Personal Skills


October 2013

The most recent photo of Maria was taken when she participated in a uniform project Mi Esperanza was hired to do.  Maria and her family are doing well.  Maria continues to support her family, her husband is disabled.  Her daughters are continuing their education and with that, the walls of poverty continue to break down.  

Maria "The Tortilla Lady"

Lori Connell

Maria “The Tortilla Lady” is a story of hope.  Maria was one of the first six micro-credit loan recipients in 2002. When she came to us she had a small tortilla business she wanted to expand. She was making 200 tortillas a day and selling them for one or two dollars a day. With her first loan from the Mi Esperanza program, she expanded her business and has continued to expand her business ever since. Maria now makes 2500 tortillas a day and has built a room onto her home with a large adobe oven to cook her tortillas. She begins at 6am each morning cooking and then travels during the late morning to stores that buy her tortillas.  Maria now makes $25 a day, which is comparable to most doctors in the country. 

Maria at a glance

  • Marital Status: Married
  • Children: 3
  • Community: Sector Ocho
  • Mi Esperanza Course: Micro-credit recipient

Emelina Alvarez

Lori Connell

"After participating in Mi Esperanza's Beauty Class, I started working at a Beauty Salon called "Salon de Belleza Maine", at Barrio La Ronda (Downtown). My schedule is from Monday thru Saturday, 7:00 am - 6:00 pm. I have worked there for three years now, and appreciate my job and believe Mi Esperanza opened the door for this job opportunity.

This has not only helped me economically, but emotionally. It has built my self-esteem, by discovering I am capable of being productive and independent.

I am grateful to have an excellent boss that has taught me new things, and has been very supportive and trusts me."

Emelina at a glance

  • Age: 29
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Children: 1
  • Community: Santa Cecilia
  • Mi Esperanza Course: Belleza/Beauty Class 2006 & Personal Skills 2006