Meet Our Clients Ana Celia
Ana Celia Acuña is unstoppable. Despite facing generational poverty and gender discrimination, Ana became a leader - transforming her own life and the future of her entire community.
Ana and her seven siblings grew up in La Laguna, Nicaragua. They often struggled to find enough to eat, and Ana worked from a very young age to pay her own school fees.
Ten years ago, in order to survive, Ana and 20 other determined women formed La Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) Trust Group and received loans from Opportunity International to purchase additional supplies like oil and rice for their small shops.
Opportunity International noticed how dedicated and skilled these women were and approached them to work on critical issues in the community, including the need for potable water. Years earlier, an earthquake had destroyed the water system in their village, leaving Ana and her neighbors without drinking water in their homes. Instead, the women would travel 7 km to fill their barrels at a monthly cost of about $24 for 3 cubic meters of water. Not only was this a great expense for people living in poverty, but it also took them away from their businesses and families.
Historically, community issues in La Laguna had always been handled exclusively by the La Laguna Community Cooperative, a group consisting of five male elders. The group had been trying to dig a new well for about 10 years, but Ana’s Trust Group was frustrated and no longer trusted that the men could complete the project. Ana was determined to get things done so she became the first woman to join the cooperative, and then the board.
That’s when things started happening.
Opportunity International lent the cooperative $10,000, payable over 10 years, to dig a well 600 meters deep. Under Ana's leadership, the community members came together to dig and install piping to carry the water to each villager’s home.
Today, the water project is self-sustaining - 224 families pay $5.24 per month for 8 cubic meters of water. Ana says the improvement in their lives is remarkable: they save so much time and money now, and the water is far superior to what they were getting before.
With a successful community project completed, Ana and her team realized their collective power. With help from Opportunity, they raised money to repair the main road leading out of the village - the road that connects La Laguna to healthcare and the outside world - which was destroyed by heavy rains in 2010. The cooperative also helps needy people rebuild their roofs, and recently refurbished the community’s library. Their next big project will be building a healthcare center for the community.
Ana has recruited other women to join the board and now there are equal numbers of women and men—and even young people—solving the community’s critical issues. She believes that the older board members must begin to teach the younger women how to serve and lead.
In addition to her work with the cooperative, Ana runs a small food shop - preparing meals for her community. Her financial independence has empowered her to afford her own home, send her children to school and create a bright future for her family.
And this is just the beginning.
Ana dreams of becoming a lawyer to help even more people in her community. Because of investments from Opportunity International, Ana is empowered to transform her world.