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“I decided to change to achieve my dreams”

I started with a sow to produce piglets, and I used to give her the cheapest possible food,” says 43-year-old Zoila Surán. She was born in the Costa Brava farmhouse, in Democracia, Escuintla, although from a very young age she moved to El Astillero hamlet in Masagua, Escuintla, which is where she raised her family and started her own business by breeding and selling pigs. “I have liked to grow animals since I was little: pigs, chickens and ducks”. 

Zoila remembers that it was 6 years ago when she first heard of the Nurturing the Future Project. In her own voice she expressed the knowledge she gained, and, with clear satisfaction, she shared some of the changes she experienced: “When I started participating in the gatherings, I learned that the animals get sick and how it can relate to the way we feed them… for instance, I was feeding one of my piglets with a different type of food and she died. That was the moment when I decided to change how I was raising them, so I started feeding them with food from the brand Purina, and to this date that is what I keep using”. 

Today, the pig breeding and marketing business is up and running, and the families and community members participate in this initiative, which integrates training and technical assistance. “I have sows for the production of piglets, and once they are ready, I sell them. In addition, I do the full process to sell their meat and lard. My daughters and various other women are also in the pig breeding industry. We all got resources to improve the economy of our homes”.

To Zoila, being able to focus on what they need and to recognize their skills has generated a transformational impact in her family and community. “In the talks regarding the Nurturing the Future project they have also taught us how to cook with herbs, so that we can eat better at home” she said. It is a fact that the decisions women make has a positive impact in achieving a balanced diet and reducing the family expenses.

If I sell my animals, my husband doesn’t say ‘how much did you make?’ nor ‘where’s the money?’. I decide what to do with what I make or how to improve. Before, I used to be shy, but now I participate, I speak up and share what I have learned during the project”. 

For Zoila and many women, learning about decision-making has been beneficial. “When I started, I only had one sow, but now I have twelve. And with the money I made, I even built 3 more pens for my piglets.”

Zoila is successfully managing her business, for which she fully trusts in joining her dedication, efforts, and participation with the training that CARE carries out in her community. “There are periods that we call ‘dead time’, right after the harvest, when men do not have work to do. In those cases, my pig business provides for us, for my family“. She proudly adds, “Recently, I sold some of my piglets and bought a heifer because I also want to work with cattle.”

Although she recognizes that she still has a long road ahead, she declared to be viewing the fruits of her efforts. “Some women work in the fields, some study, and some of us have businesses. We can make a change if we want, so that men and women can support one another to live better in our community. We are the ones who must say ‘Yes, I can, because I am capable, and I can make my own decisions’”.