Father Gregory Boyle, in his award-winning book Tattoos on the Heart, says, “It is certainly true that you can’t judge a book by its cover, nor can you judge a book by its first chapter—even if that chapter is twenty years long.” Marlene del Socorro Acevedo Vega, a mother of three and a recipient in the Microcredit Loan Program in the community of El Pedregal, has undoubtedly had a difficult first chapter of her life.
Marlene’s mother pulled her out of school after finishing second grade, needing help on the family farm picking fruit and taking it to the market to sell. To this day, Marlene is unable to read and write and relies on her daughter to help her track income and expenses in her small neighborhood store.
Five years ago, Marlene’s husband, José, was diagnosed with kidney disease due to working hard for years under the crippling Nicaraguan sun. Unfortunately, José no longer can grow crops and his family has been forced to get creative to make ends meet. Around seven years ago, Marlene saw a need for a neighborhood store in her community and decided to open one. She began selling the basics: rice, sugar, corn, vegetable oil, and a few other staples.
Over the last year and a half, Marlene has worked with the Amigos team to become part of the Microcredit Loan Program and receive a loan for her “pulperia.” She received business trainings and began tracking her expenses and income for the first time. When Marlene arrived at the Amigos for Christ office to present her project for the first time, the Microcredit Committee did not approve her loan. Marlene was timid and seemed afraid of taking on a loan for her business, afraid to fail.
Fortunately, Marlene did not take that “no” as a reason to give up on her dream of growing her business. Thanks to her economic development Community Advocates, Yader and Patricia, Marlene continued to work on her business plan, building confidence along the way. When she arrived at Amigos for her second presentation, it was as if she was a completely different person. Marlene was poised and spoke eloquently about her dreams for her business, and the committee decided to approve her loan.
With her loan, Marlene has begun construction to expand the size of her business and is offering new products for her customers.
If we were to close the book on Marlene after the first chapter, we would have missed out on all the beauty that God has provided over the last few years. She is the perfect example of trusting in God’s plan and having the patience to let it play out. While Marlene has had to overcome a plethora of obstacles in her life, we have faith that with her spirit of hope and perseverance, her story will have a happy ending!