Fundación Mujer, Costa Rica

Maria Helena Hernandez Quiros - Observations of an Oikocredit Investor

Maria Helena Hernandez Quiros lives in Santa Rosa de Turrialba. She is a faithful client of Fundacion Mujer and already has her fourth credit. Besides, she makes good public relation for the organization and motivated several women to become a client of Fundacion Mujer. Maria Helena is a member in the «Banco Mujer Proyecto de Vida» (Women's Banking Group Life Project) in Guayabo Abajo de Turrialba.

Maria Helena with one of her cows

Maria Helena Hernandez shows us first the simple cottage that they are renovating at the moment. She tells us that with the last credit they could, besides other things, also pay the electrification of the cottage. The idea is that they, including her husband, could later stay here over night so they don’t have to walk every morning the 3 kilometers from their house in the village to their piece of land and walk back in the evening. Their children are grown up and they no longer live at home. Maria Helena said that she and her husband get older, so it is an important decision to renovate the cottage. Afterwards, we walk over their piece of land and she shows us the different products she and her husband are planting. There are beans, manioc, potatoes and pumpkin, and in a corner grows coriander. Besides of that, there are bananas, papaya and mango trees … a real paradise. All their products are grown for their own needs but also for the local market.

While walking over the land, Maria Helena tells us about her plans. She points to a small square concrete plate and says that this is the place for a milk room, in which the milk of her cows can be professionally cooled and be stored before it can be sold. There is a small brook on their land and they actually planned to build a fishpond with the last credit, to breed sweet water fish, called “tilapia” for the domestic market. But it didn’t work out with the cement, so instead, they decided to buy three more cows. The fishpond can be built with a next credit In the meantime, we are close to the cows. Here the husband of Maria Helena, José Luis Abarca Mora, is cutting back the exuberantly growing plants with a machete. On the contrary to his wife, he is a quiet person. Maria Helena calls the cows and they come one after the other curiously closer.

I like the liveliness and the many ideas of Maria Helena Hernandez Quiros. Her optimism is infectious. For me, she is a vivid example of female empowerment and a wonderful example of the Costa Rican «pura vida» (pure life)!