There’s a common phrase in Paraguay that talks about putting on the jersey when someone needs you or something needs to be done. It means that you are a team player and that people can count on you to come through. Over the past year, Maria has shown that she not only is a team player, but that she seeks out opportunities to empower the women around her — her teammates — in life.

Maria joined a trust group through Diaconía, Global Aid Network (GAiN)’s partner in Paraguay, three years ago to help her thermos decoration business grow. In 2018, she started attending vocational training courses to learn how to decorate sandals and make bead jewelry. Her instructor, Fabiola, recognized her talent and knew about her thermos decoration business, so she invited Maria to learn more about becoming a course instructor.

At the beginning of 2019, Maria started teaching a new course. With the popularity of a loose leaf tea called “tereré,” her thermos decoration quickly became the course with the most demand in the communities. Maria has grown significantly in her self-confidence and independence, as she now drives herself to other cities to offer courses. Recently, she has expanded the courses she offers to include the skills she had previously learned with Diaconía. Last year, she taught a total of ten courses.

With her payment from teaching, she applied what she has learned during her time with Diaconía and invested wisely in her business. She was able to purchase a new embroidery sewing machine to give her thermos products a more detailed and elegant design. As she continues to grow in ability and capacity, Maria never looked around and saw other women as competition. She is always looking for ways to serve and empower the women around her, helping them to learn new skills and ways to improve their businesses. She has also looked for new ways to serve in her church as she grows in her faith through the constant discipleship she receives through Diaconía.

Everyone that meets Maria falls in love with her. She shows up early and prepared. She knows what it means to go above and beyond — to wear the jersey.

We met Maria earlier this year and were encouraged by her story. Like everyone else, her life was impacted by COVID but because of the continued support, Diaconia is slowly restarting operations. At the moment, there are a total of 4,340 Diaconia clients. Smaller loan groups are meeting where possible, or trust group presidents are meeting one-on-one with members. As things are getting back on track, we look forward to sharing more stories of hope like Maria’s.

You can help provide hands-on training so that women can learn marketable skills and financial literacy.

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