Members of a cooperative in the Marcala region of Honduras look to 34-year-old Alba Rosa Claros as an innovative leader. With her husband Gerson Argueta and their four children, Marta Ersilia, 13; Axel Daviel, 9; Gerson Jaret, 8; and Nury Celeste, 5, Alba has built a successful family business.
Alba is not only a successful entrepreneur; she is a motivational speaker. Thanks to her success, she is frequently asked to visit other countries to talk to women about her experiences and encourage these budding entrepreneurs.
“My family has seen an extraordinary change,” Alba said. “We previously have not had experience with the things that we now work with for the project, so we now have a wider experience. Not only myself, but also my husband, my children and my family have been involved.”
We are thinking about expanding this project, because it has an incredible demand. Alba Rosa Claros, Heifer Honduras project participant
Each of the gifts has played an instrumental role in the family’s business. They use the manure from the pigs as fertilizer and sell the pigs’ offspring, along with baby chicks. After receiving training from Heifer, their production costs declined by 40 percent. Now they are able to prepare everything they need to care for their animals and plants.
“We are thinking about expanding this project, because it has an incredible demand,” Alba said.
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The family's new stove has also made a monumental change in their lives. The stove Alba had before consumed two loads of wood each week, and the new stove only uses half a load, saving the family 300 Lempiras, or about $13.70, a week on firewood. The new stove is more environmentally friendly, eliminating much of the smoke that used to fill their home, improving the family’s health. Alba also sells some of the food prepared with her new stove, including chickens for 280 Lempiras, or about $12.70, each and a variety of other meals for 70 Lempiras, or about $3.20, per dish.
Next, the family wants to buy a fish tank. They have already prepared the ground for rearing fish. In the near future, Alba hopes they can produce everything they need to satisfy all of their nutritional needs.
We work as a team, as a family...I changed, and it was not easy, but now I can see that my children have a different mindset. Alba Rosa Claros, Heifer Honduras project
One of the most important improvements since working with Heifer has been the family’s health. They have been eating cleaner, and Alba can see the difference this has made. “Now, my children do not get sick,” Alba said. “They do not eat junk food. Now we eat microorganisms and food that we prepare ourselves.” Alba used to suffer from gastritis and headaches, but she feels much better now.
And she recognizes that these meaningful changes can only be obtained through teamwork.
“We work as a team, as a family. Meaningful change is the most important thing for us,” Alba said. “I changed, and it was not easy, but now I can see that my children have a different mindset. Those are the things that stay with us and that are not going anywhere.”
Through Heifer’s Vida Café Project and the COMSA cooperative, Alba learned about organic agriculture and market experiences at fairs, as well as the Organic Basket, a market where the area’s best producers sell their products. At the Marcala fair, she sells green peppers for 5 Lempiras, or about 23 cents, each; radishes for 5 Lempiras, or about 23 cents, per pack; lettuce for 10 Lempiras, or about 45 cents, a head; and beans for 10 Lempiras, or about 45 cents, a pound.
For Alba, the most exciting part of joining the Vida Café Project is that her family is involved in many new projects.
“In every project, we are a great team with my children,” Alba said. “We are very excited about the changes we have experienced. It is indispensable that my children get involved and acquire the knowledge. That’s what excites us, to involve the family in a way that we become attached to the Earth. We can have a healthy life through all the projects we are doing.”
After seeing the changes in her own family that have happened from being a part of Heifer, Alba wants to see her neighbors find the same success.
“My dream is to see several families in the community continue implementing all of this,” she said.
Story and photos by Bianca Solórzano, Communications Officer, Heifer Honduras