Cutting a New Path: Álvaro's Story
When an injury forced Don Álvaro to stop working, he wasn't sure how he could feed his family. He had always relied on farming for both. But when a shipment of bicycles arrived in his community he seized the opportunity to shift gears and turn his life around.
Álvaro comes from a long line of farmers and for as long as he can remember he has worked in the fields. When he was a young boy he worked alongside his father learning about agriculture, family, and the importance of hard work. He still remembers getting up early and going out to the farm with his father. They grew crops of beans, corn and cassava. They had to produce enough food for the family and to make a profit at the market. It was a lot of hard work, long days, and stress on the body.
Álvaro carried this work ethic into adulthood and continued farming to provide for his family. Five years ago, however, Álvaro started slowing down. He was suffering from back pain that eventually prevented him from continuing his work as a farmer. This had a significant impact on his income and family. This set back hurt his pride, but he refused to allow it to keep him down.
As a member of his neighborhood co-op, Álvaro was able to purchase this bike and a grass trimmer. He transformed his life by using these new tools to find clients and started a gardening service. Even though he wasn't able to continue the strenuous work bending in the fields he was still able to connect with the land in his new job and more importantly was able to provide for his family once again.
He was able to purchase both items with a loan he obtained through the co-op. Now that he was working again, he was able to quickly pay back the loan with the proceeds from his gardening job. Every day when he returns home from work he always cleans his trimmer and bicycle. He says, he has always taken care of his things so that they stay like new and last longer.
Our donated bicycles are provided to the co-ops through a program known in Costa Rica as Mi Bici. The parent organization, Grupo FINCA, helps grow small businesses in rural communities through this community run micro-finance project.