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2011 WiLD Awards - Maria Piedad Guaman Sagnay
Edited by Donna Stokes, World Ark managing editor
Heifer's annual Women in Livestock Development awards celebrate standout participants from the four project areas in which Heifer works: Africa, Asia and the South Pacific, the Americas, and Central and Eastern Europe. Not only do the women chosen for this honor show great skill and perseverance in raising animals and crops, they also embody the heart of sustainable development: The transformation from recipient to donor, student to teacher, follower to leader. This year's winners, from Tanzania, Cambodia, Ecuador and Latvia, speak of confidence, financial independence and pride in their journeys of hard work and determination to succeed. To read about each winner, click on the photos below:
Grassroots Award Winner
Maria Piedad Guaman Sagnay
Maria Piedad Guaman Sagnay's early life was not easy. She attended school in her hometown of San Martin Alton, Ecuador, until she was 12, when she and her sister moved to the high plateau to help care for their family's animals full-time. She later worked as a hired farm hand, maid, nanny and fruit vendor to help raise her five siblings. She eventually returned to San Martin Alton and married a young community leader, Pedro Yupanqui, with whom she had three girls.
Inspired by the difficulties in her own childhood, she began looking for ways to support the youth in her community, seeking alternatives to emigration, low wages and inequality. It was on that path that Guaman found Heifer.
Through her work and training in agroecology with Heifer, Guaman helped create a market for local producers, where she motivates other small farmers. She also sells quinoa, wheat, broad beans, peas, eggs and milk that she produces on her land. Proceeds help provide clothing and school supplies for her children.
Guaman's husband supported her in returning to finish high school and in participating in Heifer's agroecology promoter training. Three times a week, Guaman visits families in the community to distribute seeds, examine guinea pigs and listen to her fellow community members.
"These opportunities with Heifer have given me a lot," Guaman said. "I gained the courage to say and do what I thought, what I feel and what I dream for my family and for my community. … I decided that my daughters should grow up here, in the embrace of the community, that they should respect themselves, live with their parents, eat what we as a family decide to eat, grow in a healthy and harmonious environment. I decided that if anyone can do something for the community, it's all of us, and, at the same time, each one of us."
Honor the Women in Your Life
Heifer International celebrates the independent, strong, loving and talented women we work with every day to help end hunger and poverty around the world.
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