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Fifty-year-old Maura lives in the rural community of Juan Velazco Alvarado Franco, situated in the Piura region of Peru. Maura’s parents took her out of school after she completed first grade. In those days, it was widely felt that girls didn’t need to be educated because they eventually marry, have children, and don’t work outside the home. Maura married at 19 and eventually learned to write.

Maura and her husband have been married for 31 years. They have six children: four sons and two daughters. Their youngest son is 10 years old. Of the older children, four live in Lima and one daughter lives near them with her own family. Maura likes being close enough to visit her four grandchildren.

For nearly 21 years, Maura was psychologically and physically abused by her frequently drunk husband. After the couple joined Heifer Peru’s Building Sustainable Livelihoods in Piura’s Dry Forest Communities Project in 2011, things began to change.

In 2012, Maura and her husband received sheep. "I got four sheep to raise and now I have five,” Maura said. “I give them water and food, and my husband cures them when they are sick. I have not sold any sheep because I first have to pass on the gift. Hopefully I will do it soon, although I have no date to do it. But I know that I have to pass it on to another family so that they, too, can benefit like me."

"My husband was invited to participate in workshops,” Maura said. “At first he went alone, but he was told that women should participate. Eventually he invited me to go with him, so we started to attend the workshops together. We attended healthy family, family communication, and healthy eco-housing workshops, and I went to the ovine (sheep) workshops by myself.”

"Healthy Family was my favorite workshop,” Maura said. “They taught the importance of communication and helped me learn how to deal with my ??husband and children. Now my husband and I try to talk when we have a problem. My husband used to make ??all the decisions and would not let me share my opinion. We definitely communicate better and more often. I also try to talk often with my children and stay aware of what is happening in their life.”

Today, there is no more abuse, and Maura’s husband truly values her opinion on all matters.

The lessons Maura has learned through Heifer have given her a sense of responsibility to continue to pass on that knowledge to her children and others in her community. "Passing on the Gift® is a nice thing the project does,” Maura said. “It is how I learned the importance of sharing.”

Story and photo by Diana Odar, Volunteer, Heifer Peru

Help a family like Maura’s turn their life around.