A loan of $1,300 helped a member purchase yarn in different colors & kilos of flour.

Hueyapan Group's story

The community of San Andrés Hueyapan (or Hueyapan, for short) is situated in the town of Tétela del Volcán in the State of Morelos. It has 6014 inhabitants. Hueyapan is 2340 meters above sea level. In the Nahuatl language, Hueyapan means “place of abundant water” (Hueyi = “many”; Atlat = “water”).

The Hueyapan Group bears the same name as this location. It is composed of 5 members: Celia M. F., Justina A. Sardiñas, Yolanda R. M., Yolanda A. Cortex, and Herlinda P. A.. We will focus on Herlinda’s story.

Not knowing what her name means, Herlinda is 48 years old. She completed her education through the 6th grade at the Carlos A. Carillo School in Hueyapan. Sra. Herlinda requested a loan from Fundación Realidad in order to buy yarn in different colors at wholesale. In addition, she will purchase wheat flour to use in making shawls. You’re probably wondering what flour has to do with producing shawls. Herlinda prepares the yarn in the following manner:

First, she combines flour and boiled water. When the mixture becomes the consistency of porridge, she allows it to cool before adding the woolen yarn. She lets the yarn soak in the flour mixture for 30 minutes or until it no longer has a rigid consistency. This process makes the yarn easier to manipulate for weaving. After the yarn is finished soaking, any excess mixture is squeezed out before the yarn is washed with neutral soap and set out to dry in the sun. The entire process takes a full day and prepares the yarn for use in handicrafts.

In addition, Herlinda also grows seasonal flowers. For example, in the month of November, the cempazuchitl (a miniature yellow marigold, an Aztec symbol of death) is planted for the “Día de los Muertos” celebrations.

Herlinda recently joined the Hueyapan Group, which is now in its second loan cycle. She was invited by Yolanda R. M., the group leader. Sra. Yolanda has several orchards where she grows seasonal fruits such as apples, pears, figs, avocados, cajinicuiles (a tropical fruit with flesh that looks like cotton candy), and tejocote. Sra. Celia M. is a single mother and the most relaxed member of the group. She raises sheep and also has a small fruit orchard. Doña Yolanda Argon is the most guarded member. She did not want her photograph taken so that her children would not see her on the Internet. Sra. Justina A. manages a small stationery shop where she sells school supplies.

Getting back to Herlinda’s story, she operates a home business in Hueyapan where her customers visit her to purchase shawls and overcoats. She says she also travels to other venues closest to her community to sell her products since she does not have an established vending location. Herlinda started weaving when she was 10 years old and learned this skill from her maternal grandmother.

Herlinda makes a profit of 10 to 15 percent from each garment that she sells. Apart from her agricultural activities, this is her only source of income. She is a hardworking and enthusiastic person. This business is very important to her because it represents an extension of her grandmother’s heritage. She faces very little competition since there are few craftspeople who work in the State of Morelos. However, Herlinda still faces some challenges. The cost of materials is high and she must travel constantly to the city of Cuautla to acquire them. She is proud of the fact that her garments are indispensable in her community because of the cold that exists for most of the year. Another benefit of the business is that it has enabled her younger children to get ahead.

Doña Herlinda will immediately apply her loan of 5000 MXN toward the purchase of materials. Since she works alone, she cannot generate more items on her own. She feels rushed and needs to hire more people to produce more garments. Herlinda hopes to come into contact with a good wholesale buyer so that she can grow her business.

She became a widow last year. Herlinda’s six children are as follows:
- Lorenzo is her eldest son and left for the United States four years ago.
- Her second child Genaro is employed at a restaurant.
- Her third child Alejandro lives with her and helps around the house and on the farm.
- Her only daughter is named Judith. She is 18 years old and works as a clerk in the city of Cuernevaca.
- Julio attends high school.
- Alberto is in fourth grade.

In her part of town, the climate is very cold but the land is fertile and enables their fruit trees to be productive. Her single floor house is made of adobe blocks. It has three rooms and an asbestos sheet roof. Now that her husband has passed away, her business enables her to maintain her lifestyle and move forward. In the future, she hopes to export her garments and become connected with a good buyer that specializes in handicrafts.

Herlinda says she is satisfied and happy to be given the opportunity to be part of Fundación Realidad. She says, “We are grateful that Fundación Realidad exists and for the loan that was provided to us. They take the time to understand the situation of each member and the communities in which they live. By forming support groups, we are able to help each other improve the quality of life for our families. We are very, very thankful that Fundación Realidad is a microfinance institute that provides both support services and financial assistance.”

In this group: Yolanda, Herlinda, Justina, Celia, Yolanda

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Translated from Spanish by Kiva volunteer Ronan Reodica

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