Success Story from Colombia: Creating Beauty Out of Conflict

Success Story from Colombia: Creating Beauty Out of Conflict

Desperate and scared, Maria and her family fled violence in their town, selling all they could before they left and leaving behind most everything else. The conflict was stressful for the Hernandez family, which received death threats from the groups. "In this situation you don't feel like doing anything. You couldn't even sleep," Maria said. Desperate and scared, Maria and her family decided to flee, selling all they could before they left and leaving behind most everything else. They couldn't say goodbye to their friends and neighbors for fear that they would be found along the way. Maria and her family made their way to the coast to move in with her parents.

She was enthusiastic about the prospect of learning something new and starting her own business. She completed the course in three months, and through the EAP's microfinance project she secured a loan to buy a hairdresser's table, accessories, a wash basin and supplies--everything she needed to open her own salon.

"I received much more than I had expected. I now have all the materials that I need. With time I will be able to leave this neighborhood and set up another place of business. I want to buy a motorcycle and provide house-to-house service," Maria said.The advice and training Maria received through CHF International's Colombia office have helped her beauty salon maintain an impressive profit level in its first year of business, and will continue to help her as the business grows.

For a long time they did not leave the house, fearing still that they could be recognized and followed. But after enough time passed they began to build a new life in their new home. Maria found small jobs working as a seamstress, but making ends meet continued to be a challenge.Through her neighbors, Maria heard about CHF International's Economic Assistance Program (EAP), and she soon enrolled in a training course for setting up beauty salons.

* Names have been changed to protect anonymity

Region: The Americas, Colombia
Area of expertise: Refugees / IDPs