Total loan: $975

María Cleofas

Montecristi, Manabí Province, Ecuador / Arts

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A loan helped to buy toquilla straw and aniline leather.

María Cleofas's story

The credit group 'Amigos para Siempre' (Friends Forever) from the Chimborazo street get together every fortnight in Montecristi. This area is well-known for its rich pre-colonial cultural heritage and also for its craft products, which are famous on a national and international scale. It is here that the famous 'toquilla' straw hats are made. This is where Maria, 73, lives. She is married and she has five grown-up children. One of them still lives with her in her home. They also have under their roof a grandson, who is now 19 and is like a son to her as she raised him from when he was small. He is now studying at university. Her husband does not work anymore due to illness. Maria works in crafts, making an assortment of decorative products made from toquilla straw, as well as bags and wallets. She also sells aniline leather in different colors (the ink is used to paint the straw). This ink is used a lot by the craftspeople in the area who come to her house on a daily basis to buy her products. These products give color to their own work, in the same way that Maria uses these colors to give a flourish to her own bags and wallets. She sells her products to traders from other cities who sell her products on at a very good price. This loan is to buy toquilla straw and aniline for selling on. She has been with the credit group since it started and she particularly likes the free medical care that it offers. Her dreams are to be healthy and for her grandson to grow up to become a working professional.