By Ronia Romero | March 4, 2022
High up on the mountainside overlooking the sprawling capital city of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, you’ll find the garbage dump community of Campo Cielo, also known as Heaven’s Camp in English. There, you will find an amazing community leader named Florentina Cortes. Those around her know her better as Flor, which means flower. Flor is an inspiration to other single mothers because she raised her four children and started her own business despite having no support from her children’s father. Flor has always used her success to help others as well, even when she doesn’t have the economic means to do so.
Two of Flor’s four children are in International Samaritan’s scholarship program. Her oldest daughter, Daniela, is studying nutrition at a local university. One of her sons, Daniel, graduated from our scholarship program in 2020 as a refrigeration technician and works in a garment factory earning several times more than he used to, which he uses to help his mother with home expenses.
Due to the pandemic, Flor lost her job when the kindergarten closed.
Despite her success as a mother, community leader, and entrepreneur, she faces extreme challenges every day. Flor’s youngest child was diagnosed with autism and special needs at an early age. In order to make ends meet to support her children, Flor used to find occasional work washing and ironing clothes for wealthy families, and when work was scarce, she would work in the garbage dump scavenging for aluminum cans, cardboard, and plastic bottles. A few years ago, Flor had a job cleaning and helping the children in the kindergarten classroom in her neighborhood. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, Flor lost her job when the kindergarten closed.
Flor came to us with her desire to start small businesses. We organized workshops with Flor and the women in the community so they could learn how to make homemade hand creams, disinfectant cleaners, soap, and lotions. We also held classes on how to use social media and technology to market their homemade goods, empowering Flor and other women to launch their own small businesses. Flor is now earning an average of $120 a month selling these goods. She no longer goes into the dangerous dump to collect trash to sell. Her hard work and desire to start her own business has completely changed her life.
Working with our teammates from the US and Ethiopia last month, we submitted a grant request to the USAID Mujer Prospera Challenge. So much effort went into writing the proposal, which we did with confidence because we want to see more women like Flor move from working in the dump to owning their own businesses. If International Samaritan receives the grant, she will be training and leading other mothers to follow her success.
Program Director (Tegucigalpa, Honduras)
Ronia has a degree in Foreign Languages with a concentration in English. For many years, Ronia has dedicated herself to expanding opportunities for children, adolescents, and adults who work in the Tegucigalpa municipal dump.