Were you to sit down with the micro-entrepreneurs in our programs, many would tell you inspiring stories about how they have provided for themselves and their family. Rarely, however, would their stories begin all the way back in childhood.
Narcisa began her journey of hope years ago as a young girl in Cono Sur, Peru – on the bed of a truck, between boxes of cargo.
Little Narcisa's aunt had been abusing her and forcing her to do menial tasks while telling her father, who struggled with alcoholism and lived in a distant town, that she was sending his daughter to a good school.
"Not a day went by that my aunt did not mistreat me," Narcisa told us.
When a neighbor who witnessed the abuse offered to help reunite Narcisa with her father, she warily agreed. The neighbor then convinced a truck driver to carry Narcisa out of town, and so the little girl climbed into the back of the truck and prayed that she could find her dad – and that he'd be sober and willing to take her in.
When they reached the city where her father worked, the driver dropped off Narcisa two blocks from the address she had given him. He told her that if her father was not there, she should wait for him right where he had dropped her off. Then, at four in the afternoon, he would pass by to pick her up. Before driving off, he gave her a little money so she could buy a meal.
Narcisa remembers the next moments with a great deal of heartache.
She got out of the truck and ran to where she thought her father worked. Upon arriving, she asked for her father, and they told her that "the man over there" had the same name as her father.
She walked up to the mysterious man both with rage for all that he had done to hurt her family, and also with hope. She stood in front of him and said, "I am your daughter, Narcisa."
The man looked at her and, seeing her clothes in tatters and her hair dirty and full of lice, he suddenly broke into tears. He hugged her and they both wept for joy.
This was just the first leg of a journey that has led Narcisa, now a 66-year-old grandmother, out of poverty. She went on to educate herself and is now the treasurer of a savings and loan group funded by Five Talents. She is on her sixth loan cycle and runs a small beauty products business out of her home while also caring for three of her grandchildren.
Narcisa said she always tells her story to her grandchildren so they understand the kind of life she lived and how, despite it all, she was able to get an education and have her own micro-business.
They always end up crying – not from sadness but because they feel such pride to have a courageous mother who overcame great obstacles in order to give them a better life.