How one woman found empowerment through lifelong learning.
Francisca Jane Orosco Martinez is a 43-year-old woman who was living in a community in Ucayali with her husband and four sons. She had lived in Ucayali all her life when in 2003, Francisca and her spouse began to realize that their children weren’t receiving a quality education. They noticed that throughout the course of the school year, their children were only learning the equivalent of three months of lessons. That’s when Francisca’s husband decided that they would move the family to Amazonas, so that their children could receive a better education.
When they arrived in Amazonas, one of the first things her family did was find a new school for her kids and build a new house for the family. Unfortunately, a year after settling down in the new community, Francisca and her family suffered two tragedies: a house fire which completely destroyed her home and a miscarriage soon after.
Francisca was inconsolable and felt completely lost
Though that time in her life was extremely difficult, Francisca was able to pull her family through tragedy. She remembered the story of her own mother, a strong and determined woman who raised Francisca and her seven other siblings, always with a positive outlook. So despite the loss of her home and her pregnancy, she decided that, like her mother, she would concentrate on the good and work to rebuild her life.
“Life takes but life also gives. My mother taught me that you can always overcome challenges. I had my kids and the opportunity to rebuild my house and that was more than enough for me to have a positive attitude.”
The power of friendship
As time went on, Francisca’s family started to recover from the loss and she began to feel a part of her community through various friendships. One of those friends, Soraida, a community leader of Minga Peru, invited Francisca to a workshop on the importance of self-esteem. At the end of the presentation, Francisca felt inspired and left with a new perspective on how she could uplift herself and her family. Though she had not finished her elementary education and initially thought it was impossible for someone her age to continue learning, she looked to her friend Soraida as an example and inspiration.
Over the year, Soraida continued to invite her to more Minga workshops and Francisca never missed an opportunity to attend. She learned about everything from active citizenship to project management and leadership—reinforcing her desire to learn more about how she could positively impact her community and her family.
A chance at entrepreneurship
When Francisca saw that her family was doing better, she decided that she was going to put even more time into learning with Minga Peru. She attended workshops focused on using local plant life to create and sell crafts as well as workshops on the construction and management of fish farms—a common and effective method of income generation in her community. Once Francisca started making money from these methods, she even attended workshops on how to manage their household budget.
Eight years after her first introduction to Minga Peru, Francisca couldn’t be more grateful for the women in her life who gave her the confidence and motivation to learn and grow. At the same time, she is proud of herself for having used what she learned in the workshops for her own personal development and for the betterment of her family. Since applying what she has learned to her daily life, she has been able to triple her monthly salary from 100 soles (30 USD) to 300 soles (90 USD) through the sales of her crafts. The entrepreneurial skills she has gained have changed her life and created a more even financial balance of power between Francisca and her husband. She now has more control over household decisions like the education of her children.
Today, staying true to her spirit of lifelong learning, Francisca leads a reforestation project as well as a fish farm project, helping other women gain the confidence to become impactful community leaders too.
To date, Minga has successfully trained more than 1,200 community leaders like Francisca, who through their network, have had an immense impact on more than 24,000 women in the most remote communities in the Peruvian Amazon.
You can help empower more women in rural communities of the Peruvian Amazon, like Francisca, learn to be entrepreneurs and achieve their goals by supporting Minga Peru today.
** U.S. donations are tax-deductible and can be made through Minga’s fiscal sponsor, The Resource Foundation.
We would like to thank EMpower – The Emerging Markets Foundation, Lindblad Expeditions – National Geographic, The Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic (LEX-NG) Artisan Fund, The Ashmore Foundation, New England Biolabs and Friends of Minga Peru for their continuous support.