A Woman’s World: Behind the Scenes With Sanjay

Seated at the large oak desk centered in her expansive office, I couldn’t believe that Hermilia’s successful career as a lawyer was built entirely with the money she earned from a copy machine business just a few years ago. But here in the high plateau city of Juliaca, the limits of possibility have been redefined by the tireless ambition of women just like her, and together they have established female achievement as the rule rather than the exception.

Hermilia 2

Before Hermilia received her ADRA microloan, she was the uneducated wife of an impoverished farmer, raising a young boy whose destiny was grounded in poverty. Time passed, the small family remained poor.

When she was selected by ADRA to join the microloan program, Hermilia sensed that, with enough hard work, this money was going to change everything. With that attitude, Hermilia got busy. The sum was just enough for a copy machine, a few office supplies, and a modest rental space. Hermilia opened shop. Time passed, the small business expanded.

Hermilia

Like something from a fable, the copy business continued to grow and grow, and give and give. For the first time in her life, Hermilia had the resources to dream, so she enrolled at the local college and paid for her son, Abel, to join her. Every day, the two would sit together in class and study together at home, struggling through the material, celebrating after a hard exam.

Through it all, her husband supported her dream. What should seem like a common response is actually an aberration in the town of Juliaca. At best, most husbands are uncomfortable with a successful wife. At worst, they become violent. It is tragically common for a woman to be driven away from her dreams in fear.

Hermilia was not one of those women. After years of poverty, of supporting a family, of building a business, and, finally, of diligent studying, Hermilia graduated from law school, her son standing beside her with his own law degree in hand.

PERU 14-0146

Señora Hermilia gifts Spencer, A Closer Walk’s producer/director with a traditional t’anta wawa.

Now, from behind the large oak desk in her expansive office, Hermilia fights for women whose dreams are in jeopardy. As in the past, her son is at her side. Abel is part of the next generation of men who have grown up in the presence of women who found a voice, built a business, and chased a dream.

Because of that one microloan, entire generations have been ripped from poverty before they are even alive to experience it. When Abel has children, it will be as a successful lawyer instead of his old destiny as a poor farmer. Those children will learn to value education, and when they have children, that desire for learning and success will be encoded in their genes, and imprinted on their young minds.

Perhaps best of all, they will recognize the capability of women, who are rapidly building a world where these dreams are made possible.