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Tomasa outside home

When Tomasa was a young girl, she dreamed of studying. She longed to make something of herself, despite growing up in extreme poverty. But when she approached her father, asking him to help her go to school, he said no.

Her mother had other plans and began selling candy so that Tomasa could stay in school. She completed high school thanks to her mother’s dedication.

As an adult, Tomasa, now 27 years old, found herself the single mother of two young daughters without a means of supporting herself and her small family. Often, she wouldn’t eat so that she had enough to feed her children. Her top priority was caring for her girls, so everything she did was for their benefit.

When ASPIRE trainers came to her community and mentioned training for women, she jumped at the opportunity in front of her.

On the day of the first meeting, she put on her jacket and walked down the street to the class. When Tomasa describes that day, she says, “Everyone said, ‘What are you doing?’ and I responded, ‘I am learning.’”

They doubted her and questioned her every move.

But Tomasa kept going to training. She had an idea to sell snacks from her home, and after she started the training sessions, she decided to do something about it.

She bought three bags of Cheetos because that was all that she could afford. When she sold those three bags, she bought a few more snacks and sold those. Little by little, she began earning money. Now, months later, she has a small store in the front of her home.

When she reflects on her new business and independence, she says, “I love being able to produce something. I get to be the boss. And I get to work on something.” She is motivated by her daughters and proud that they get to see their mom have a goal—she hopes that her hard work might motivate them to have big goals, too.

Tomasa with children

When asked, her five-year-old daughter says she wants to have a shop when she grows up, just like her mom.

As for Tomasa, she has many dreams for her future. She wants to buy land where she can build a house and a space for her business. She has named her savings account “land” as a constant reminder of the end goal of all of her work.

She wants her daughters to go to university, enjoy stable relationships, and be a little bit happier than she was when she was young. She says, “I know nothing’s perfect, but I hope their life can be just a little bit better.”

Through the women’s group training, Tomasa found strength in herself. She says, “If you don’t have the desire to get better, it won’t work. You have to desire to get better as a person and a woman and a business owner. At training, you’ll learn. It’s excellent. You’ll build self-esteem.”

Now, when her daughters ask her if they can go to school, Tomasa wants to be able to be able to say “yes.” She wants to have enough to give her girls a future that she couldn’t have.

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