Carmen was our last interview at the end of a long week – a week filled with early mornings at sunrise, action-packed afternoons, late evening dinners and debriefings. Not to mention that every woman we had sat down with up to this point had extraordinary stories to tell, which led us to ask the question… “Is every story we hear going to be powerful and emotional?”
I’m not going to answer that quite yet, at least not until I share more about Carmen.
As you walk into Carmen’s house, the first thing you’ll notice is how meticulously clean it is. The floors? Spotless. The walls? Pristine-ly decorated. The furniture? Rather exquisite. But then we were greeted by Carmen – with a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. Her smile radiated throughout the room and made everything else seem, well, unnecessary. She was so excited to meet us and even more excited to be hosting us in her home. Her excitement and enthusiasm spread through our team like wildfire and made me feel like this was the first interview of the week!
Before I could explain too much, Carmen grabbed my hand and said: “Let me show you my businesses.” Businesses? As in plural? Sure enough, she walked us a short way up the street and showed us a block of stores. She said, “These are mine.”
Three separate stores. And big ones, too. One was all about footwear. Any Nike or Adidas shoe you can think of, she sells it. Next door is a colmado, or convenience store, and finally, there’s a motorcycle repair shop. Now she doesn’t manage these all herself – her son helps run the stores and her grandchildren help out too. In fact, when I asked to purchase a couple gallon jug of water, her 10-year-old grandson jumped in and explained to me that that was his job. He took me around to the spot where they kept the filled jugs – keys in hand – and retrieved one for me. I asked him if I could carry it back to Carmen’s house but he wouldn’t give it up. He insisted he is the one to carry it there.
Now back to Carmen. After getting to witness her entire block of businesses in action, I was eager to learn more. Did she always have these? How has her journey influenced her family? And most importantly, how has the partnership with Esperanza empowered her to do more?
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