Helping a Family of Faith through Hard Times

April 23, 2021 • Bolivia
Marlene feeds the hens that Samaritan’s Purse gave to her to help her start her own small business. Five years ago, Marlene and her family exchanged city life for the rural foothills of the snow-capped Illimani mountain. The 21,000-foot Andes subrange serves as a backdrop to Bolivia’s capital city of La Paz where Marlene grew up. After Marlene’s mother became estranged from her husband, she wanted to raise her daughters closer to family in the countryside of the Palca region.
Marlene feeds the hens that Samaritan’s Purse gave to her to help her start her own small business.

After the death of her mother and grandmother, Marlene shouldered the responsibility of earning enough income to keep her two younger siblings in school.

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Five years ago, Marlene and her family exchanged city life for the rural foothills of the snow-capped Illimani mountain. The 21,000-foot Andes subrange serves as a backdrop to Bolivia’s capital city of La Paz where Marlene grew up. After Marlene’s mother became estranged from her husband, she wanted to raise her daughters closer to family in the countryside of the Palca region.

But a year later, Marlene’s mother died in a car accident on the mountainous roads connecting Palca to La Paz. Marlene and her two younger sisters then lived with their grandmother for several years, but they experienced another heartbreak when the elderly woman died from COVID-19. The girls—18, 13, and 7—moved in with an aunt and uncle, both senior citizens.

With the household expanding from two to five, the family needed help to cover living expenses, as well as school costs for the two younger girls.

Marlene felt a responsibility to take care of her siblings, so she took the lead in planting crops on the small piece of land that her mother left her. She chose to plant vegetables that would yield the best price, such as beans, broccoli, lettuce, and corn. Then, the girls routinely traveled to La Paz to sell the produce at large markets.

Unfortunately, the profit Marlene made was barely enough to meet monthly expenses. That’s when Marlene’s uncle heard Samaritan’s Purse was starting projects in the Palca area, including one to help women generate income for their families by raising hens for eggs. Since no one else in the community was selling eggs, Marlene thought the project would give her an opportunity to earn a good income.

Equipping and Empowering

Marlene’s family worked together to construct an animal shelter to house the hens that Samaritan’s Purse gave them as a small business starter.

Now, they have enough eggs to sell in their community, as well as to supplement their own diet with the protein-rich food.

Not only did our Bolivia-based agriculture and livelihoods specialists help provide Marlene and her family with a sustainable income, they also encouraged them in their faith through prayer and regular follow-up visits. The family attends a local church, where Marlene serves as the recordkeeper.

“Thank you, Lord, I am very happy because You, God, sent me a helper,” Marlene said, adding that the Samaritan’s Purse project staff guided and supported her as she rededicated her life to God. She and her sisters had been struggling with accumulated grief from losing two family matriarchs.

“Thank you for sharing with me and strengthening my life and faith in God,” Marlene said. “I am so thankful to you, my Samaritan brothers and sisters.”

Samaritan’s Purse agriculture and livestock projects train people in need to cultivate crops and raise small animals to help provide for their families, using each activity as an opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have similar projects around the world to help financially vulnerable families in Jesus’ Name.

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Women farming
Livelihoods By improving farm and garden harvests, increasing the productivity of livestock, opening up access to markets, and providing training in business and job skills, we help households and communities make the transition from subsistence living to income generation, securing a better future.

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