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Finding HOPE, Just In Time

Luisa Villavicencio knows about having her life turned upside down. The Peruvian mother of six found herself in a desolate situation, when her husband, the sole income provider for her family, unexpectedly died of a brain hemorrhage. Suddenly alone, with no husband, no job, no food and no income to care for her family, Luisa did not know where to turn. “I was desperate and I did not know what to do or how to begin fixing my economic situation,” she said. “I was an older woman and no one wanted to give me work.”

But just days after her husband’s death, Luisa met a Project HOPE Village Health Bank program promoter handing out information at the Huandoy market near her home. “She told me to gather a group of interested women in my neighborhood and she would come and provide us with more information about Project HOPE and the program,” Luisa said.

At the meeting, Luisa and her friends learned about the Project HOPE Village Health Bank program, dedicated to promoting good health by improving family income. The program would help her get her own business off the ground with a small business loan. Luisa, as well as the other women in her village participating in the program, would be required to pay the loan back and attend health education classes.

Luisa joined the program, and with her first loan installment, she bought material to sew macramé bags and to create classroom decorations.

“My husband used to provide $384 a month for household needs, but without his support I have had to adjust my budget,” Luisa said. “Project HOPE gave me a loan of $160, which I invested in materials for my new business. At first, it was hard because I did not have any customers, but now business has picked up and I am earning an average monthly salary of $320.”

In addition to the pride Luisa feels in being able to support her family, the Village Health Bank program has enhanced her life in other ways. The health education component of the program has taught Luisa about the necessity of preventive health care. Luisa’s husband had been suffering from headaches and high blood pressure before his sudden death. Sadly for Luisa’s family, she said, “We never thought to go to the doctor for a check-up. I believe that if I had heard the information given at the health education sessions before, my husband may still be alive. I now understand the importance of preventative care for my family and myself. I am very thankful for Project HOPE!”

In Peru, 57 active Village Health Banks are providing services for 2,872 women. These women recently received $122,900 in loans and participated in 131 health education sessions. More about Project HOPE's Village Health Bank Program...

The Village Heath Bank program is dedicated to helping women start and enhance small businesses to help them raise their families out of poverty and provide their children with basic nutritional food and medicines.

The program works by giving 15-25 interested women from a selected community access to small loans, typically beginning around $80 – just enough to begin making and selling quilts, for example. The loans increase as the women qualify by successfully maintaining the repayment schedule.

Participants in the program are required to attend Project HOPE health education classes and bi-weekly business meetings. During these sessions they learn how to prevent illness and disease and live more healthy lives. Women often play a role in selecting the topics that they want covered. This health education, combined with small but vital funds, provide members with the resources needed to improve their own health as well as that of their families. Since 1994, Project HOPE’s Village Health Bank program has distributed health education and more than 157,000 loans worth $25 million. During this time period:

  • More than 50,000 women have participated around the world
  • The program has maintained a repayment rate of approximately 99 percent
  • More than 40,000 health education classes for these women have been conducted

Project HOPE currently operates Village Health Banks for about 12,400 women in the following countries:

  • Honduras
  • Guatemala
  • Peru
  • Nicaragua
  • Dominican Republic
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia

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