Stories of Change

Maria stands in her garden. Photo courtesy CODI.

A path to a better future for Maria and her family

Maria de Paz Bernal was born 50 years ago in the municipality of Nebaj, Guatemala.

She was 12 when the war came to Nebaj. Her father was assassinated. A few years later, as armed conflict still raged, Maria was shot in her right foot. She had a hard time recovering from the gunshot, and it often led to moments of depression. She was also frustrated because her ability to help her family earn a living was limited, and they lived in extreme poverty. Maria cannot read or write, and she speaks little Spanish. She mainly speaks the Ixil indigenous language. 

When she was 21, Maria married Pedro Solis. They are now parents to six daughters and four sons who range from 6 to 27 years old. Maria and Pedro decided to start a small business selling ice cream, which supplements the income that Pedro made as a day laborer. It was enough for them to buy the land where their family currently lives in the community of Visaj Cup in Nebaj. 

In 2014, Maria got to know CWS local partners CIEDEG and CODI. She soon joined the ongoing CWS program aimed at helping families have plenty of nutritious food to eat. “At that time, we grew almost only corn,” Maria recalls. “Now, thanks to the training and seeds that CODI has given us, I have been able to grow chard, broccoli, cabbage, coriander, beets, cauliflower and carrots. Now I have a diversity of crops. I also received a sheep, and I am taking advantage of its manure to use as fertilizer. My son Abel is the one who is now in charge of the crops. What we produce is mainly for our family’s consumption, but we are also able to sometimes sell in the local market.” 

Despite the odds stacked against her, Maria has kept going. She has walked this path towards a better future for herself and her children. And for the past several years, you’ve been there to walk it with her.