Help Sra. Yamile Sarmiento build a cement house
Written by: Marina Zoullas, FXB Communications Intern, who travelled this summer to Colombia and interviewed families that participated in the FXB Village program.
My goal is to raise $7,000 to help Yamile Sarmiento, one of the beneficiaries of FXB in Barranquilla, build a cement house. It may not solve all of her problems but I think it is a good beginning.
But first let me tell you how the crowdfunding came about. After working for FXB International’s office in New York City this past year, they offered me the amazing opportunity to travel this summer to Colombia and meet and interview with families that participated in the FXB Village program. Each and every one of their stories were heart wrenching and enlightening at the same time.
I got to experience first-hand what an incredible job FXB does to give the tools and support to extremely impoverished families to get out of extreme poverty. FXB provides access to health support, food, housing, education and also helps them start a sustainable business. (http://usa.fxb.org/fxbvillage-model/) To top off this transformational experience, I met with some of the kids in their youth program and witnessed how giving certain opportunities to people can have an astonishing impact on one’s life.
This is why I chose Yamile: She is a widow who has put her children through school and who helps everyone in her community. A true leader. You can read her story below. Over the next few months, I will also share with you some other stories that hopefully will shine a light on the daily struggles of the Colombian families in FXB programs.
Yamile is a widow and a leader in Malambo, in the outskirts of Barranquilla. She is also a ‘desplazada,’ displaced person from a region of Colombia impacted by conflict and violence. The FXB team told me we were going to meet with her because she is a community leader.
Yamile is very respected in the neighborhood, so she is our safe passage through the streets of Malambo where several of the FXB participating families live. She takes us to visit some of the families. Their houses are all as clean and neat as they are humble and basic.
It was now time to go to Yamile’s house. Yamile’s house took me by surprise. Unlike the other FXB houses we visited, this one is not made up of cement but of pieces of wood and corrugated plastic. The floor is dirt except for in the main living area, which looks like a mosaic. She explains to me she made it herself from leftover tiles she found “por todos lados.” (all over the place) The bathroom in the patio in the back is a small area also made out of pieces of wood. I was impressed to see how a house with dirt floors and randomly put together pieces of wood could look so clean and neat.
I ask the FXB team to explain why her house is not as sturdy as the others. They tell me it’s because she is a widow. As a widow, her priorities have been to spend the income from her income generating activity to make sure her children have a better future and so Yamile preferred to send them to get training. For example, her oldest daughter is studying to be a customer service call center operator and her younger daughters are excelling in middle school. Although she would like to have a better house, right now it will have to wait, she tells me.
Inside, we meet a distant family member and her pregnant daughter who had just arrived from devastated Venezuela. And this is Yamile: generously welcoming them with open arms into her humble home. As a widow, her priorities have been to help others and to give an education to her children. Although she would like to have a better house, right now it will have to wait.
Besides ensuring her children’s education and health, she is very concerned with the community, particularly with the teenagers and sexual education. Young teenagers are often left alone when their parents go to work. Teen pregnancies are not only common, but also manifesting at a startlingly young age. Right now she is very concerned about a teenager who is only 12 years old and pregnant. She feels there should be a program to engage the teenagers and to teach them sex education. And this is Yamile: putting everyone’s priorities and needs before her own. I would love for her to have a house like the ones of the many families she has selflessly helped.
Please donate to help Sra. Yamile Sarmiento: http://bit.ly/2uDf0ff
About Marina Zoullas: Marina Zoullas is a high school student in New York City who is passionate about empowering women living in extreme poverty around the world. In addition to interning at FXB USA, she has been involved in supporting microfinance initiatives in Ghana and started a women’s collective, Give and Gain, that supports women through the fair trade and handmade products they produce.