Fishing for a new life
June 24, 2013
Fernando splashed in his gum boots, scooping out the algae in the fish ponds on his small farm in the rolling hills of Guatemala. His tilapia are about 5 months old and looking fat and healthy.
Fernando proudly showing his healthy tilapia.
"I don't like to get wet," he laughed as he shook off the water. He smiles a lot these days and has the energy to pick up 8-year-old Maydi, who is sponsored through CFCA. She is one of his seven children.
Last year, Fernando underwent surgery to repair a hernia brought on by years of hauling snacks and bottled beverages to workers in the sugar fields. His body rebelled against the years of peddling a bicycle while supporting heavy loads on the bumpy, dirt roads.
"I felt that I would not be able to do that work for much longer," he said. "This is why I wanted a different type of job."
Wilmer Gomez, CFCA staff member in the south region of Guatemala, knew about Fernando's health situation, and he was there when Fernando asked about how to start a different life.
"All of our livelihood programs originate from the Hope for a Family program," Gomez said. "Self-sufficiency is a key characteristic in this program; this is why we have promoted Tilapia and other livelihood projects."
Tilapia farming is a growing industry in Guatemala. The government is encouraged that it can be an alternative business for rural people displaced by falling prices in the coffee industry. Not only is it a viable business but it also provides high-quality food to the people raising the fish. (Source: United Nations "National Aquaculture Sector Overview for Guatemala.")
Fernando (second from left) with his family. Fernando receives
from CFCA through his daughter, Maydi's, sponsorship
"Fernando will be one of our first farmers to sell a batch of 50 fish. We are excited because his fish are doing great. I am sure he will have a good harvest so I see potential for [him]," Gomez said. "Maybe his next harvest will be of 100 or 150 fish. I am eager to see his farm grow."
The positive attitude Fernando brings to his new enterprise is rubbing off on his friends and neighbors. He is encouraging others in the CFCA community to get started raising fish.
"Right now we have 12 CFCA families growing tilapia in this subproject and about 100 CFCA families in this region. We expect those numbers to increase in future years," Gomez said.
What Fernando's children see is their father embracing a new business opportunity. He involves them in the project, teaching valuable lessons of entrepreneurship. They see him seeking as well as giving advice.
One of the tilapia that is expected to be ready for harvest later this year.
"We are happy to see many families coming forward to take this challenge. They have optimism and they envision a healthier economic situation for their household with this project," Gomez said.
For his part, Fernando is grateful for the support his family receives through Maydi's sponsorship.
"The work that CFCA does with the families in this community is big; they are providing us with much love and support," said Fernando.