Erika L. Sangama is a twenty-five year old mother of two. Erika lives with her partner and her sons in the Villa Oriente district of Pucallpa. She is a member of the communal bank Damas del Oriente or “Ladies of the Orient”. Her bank is so named because the bank members live in an asentamiento humano (or, legalized squatter settlement) named Villa Oriente.
The asentamiento humano is located in the Ucayali region of Perú. Asentamientos humanos are formed when immigrants from other parts of the region invaden, or literally, “invade” an abandoned section of land outside of an urban area. These immigrants may come from other Peruvian metropolises or from villages in the sierras or the jungle, but all come with the dual purpose of finding work and owning their own home.
Erika moved to Villa Oriente three months after the neighborhood was officially formed in 2005. Currently, Erika works selling breakfast along the side of the regional highway from 4am to 7am in the morning. She has to get up at 3:00 am to prepare patarashka (fish wrapped in banana leaves and grilled on an open flame) and tacacho (green banana mixed with pork rinds mashed into a ball) to sell. At nights, Erika studies to earn her high school degree.
Erika is requesting 2,500 Nuevo Soles to purchase cooking oils, plates and cups for her business. Erika says her business allows her to buy school materials for herself and motivates her to keep studying to earn her degree.