Libia, a native of northern Peru, was a school teacher for 25 years before moving to the United States with her grown children in 1995. Suddenly, she was unsure of what she could do for a living in her new home. “There are so many opportunities in this country, but not knowing English was a huge barrier. Where could I work if I didn’t speak the language?”
Eager to continue working with children, Libia began volunteering with preschool and afterschool programs in San Francisco as a childcare provider and Spanish teacher. A coworker, noticing Libia’s expertise, soon suggested she open her own in-home childcare business. “I didn’t even know such a thing existed!”, Libia recalled.
Libia’s in-home childcare center, called "Nest Garden Heart", has now been in business for nearly 15 years and Libia is a pillar in her community. “It is amazing to work with children and to be able to watch them grow,” says Libia. “Many of them first come to my home when they’re as young as 2 months old, and stay until they are ready to go to preschool. I’m there as they take their first steps and get their first teeth.”
Nest Garden Heart offers a wide variety of activities and resources to help the children learn and grow, including areas dedicated to reading, music, theater and costumes, and art. This encouraging educational environment is particularly important given that many of the children in her care are special needs or at-risk youth who come to Nest Garden Heart via San Francisco family service agencies. Libia also offers overnight childcare to parents who work the night-shift and need a safe space to leave their children.
Since Libia received her first loan from Opportunity Fund in 2006, she has used two microloans to renovate her backyard and set up a garden and play space. Now, with a loan Libia will be able to purchase new equipment and furniture designed for special needs children, replace worn-out and missing educational supplies, and ensure that her small business continues to be a success.
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