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Nahún Rodrigues/World Renew

WORLD RENEW: A Grateful Heart: Merlyn's Story of Growing a Small Business

In the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, COVID-19 cases are significant. Just outside Tegucigalpa, in Nueva Suyapa, Merlyn Zuelma Zambrano cautions her daughter Estefany,18, and her son, Erlin, 12, to stay close to home to reduce their risk of contracting the virus. Estefany and Erlin do not mind; Estefany is happy to help Merlyn with chores and Erlin goes up onto the roof of the neighbour’s house where he plays inside the tent that he constructed with a bedsheet.

The rooftop has also become a classroom. To limit the spread of COVID-19, classes in Nueva Suyapa have moved online. The Zambranos do not own a computer and Estefany and Erlin must use a cell phone to get their assignments done. The rooftop provides the best lighting for online work.

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, Merlyn remains hopeful for the future. When she joined World Renew's programming, Merlyn obtained a small loan that she used to grow her tortilla business. Though sales have slowed and the costs to run the business have risen due to the pandemic, Merlyn says, “I am grateful to God that people are still buying my tortillas and that my family is getting by.”

Merlyn is also grateful that her family was one of over 1,000 families in Honduras who received hygiene kits through World Renew. Each kit contained masks, antibacterial gel and liquid soap. Families also learned about proper hand washing and proper hygiene. Now that she better understands the importance of proper hygiene, Merlyn wants more than ever to achieve her dream of one day installing a toilet to replace the unsanitary latrine pit the family uses. Merlyn knows that good health is a blessing and says, “Thank God our health has not been affected by this pandemic.”

Through World Renew, Merlyn also participates in a sustainable farming community program. She is happy that with proper social distancing and the use of masks, the program can continue amidst the pandemic. Farming helps subsidize Merlyn’s income and provides nutritious food for her family. As an active participant in the program, Merlyn learns about efficient ways to grow, harvest and market vegetables. But she also appreciates the opportunity she gets to develop bonds with the other women in the program.

Merlyn shares, “I am so grateful to MCM and World Renew for the learning and tools necessary to work in areas of agriculture and community transformation. This has allowed the development of a shared vision as a team of women farmers.”

Thanks to support from people like you families like Merlyn’s continue to look to the future with hope. May God continue to strengthen Merlyn’s resilient spirit as she strives to achieve her hopes and dreams for her family.

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