7 July 2021
Scavenging for Hope in Guatemala City
Meet Maria Delfina Hernadez, she is 65 years old and lives in Guatemala City, just a block away from the largest landfill site in Central America. Over 30 years Delfina has worked hard to build two businesses, breathing new life into what others have thrown away. Along the way she has brought hope to her community and demonstrated God’s faithfulness through all of life’s adversities.
After three years of having to scavenge amongst rubbish as a recycler and paper seller, Delfina was inspired to start her own business restoring discarded dolls and selling recycled items scavenged from the landfill site. With the support of the Potter’s House Micro-enterprise Programme, Delfina turned this idea into a business, and today employs 11 people from her community and sells to 40 different recycling centres.
Along her business journey Delfina has suffered huge loss but has shown great resilience. Over 30 years ago her husband sadly passed away, leaving her in a desperate situation with three young children to care for. With God’s help and her hardworking attitude Delfina persevered and her children have become her motivation to keep going.
Delfina’s story also features an all too familiar theme of violence, and lack of safety, which is a part of life for her community. One of her children was killed, leaving a void in her life. Delfina continues to think about what happened to her son but she finds peace and comfort in the Lord, and shares : “He is in control of everything.”
Building business skills
Through the Potter’s House Micro-enterprise Programme, Delfina has developed vital business skills, made wise investments through the loans provided and received guidance from a mentor. All this has enabled her businesses to grow, become more self-sustainable, increase their profitability and ensure many tonnes of waste are rescued from landfill.
With these skills Delfina has also been well equipped to overcome obstacles. For example, one of the most significant obstacles has been dealing with fluctuation in prices. During certain seasons the demand for recycled materials decreases and so too do the prices. So instead, Delfina will buy and sell other items during these times to cope with the price drop.
A few years ago, there were not enough lorries available to transport the recyclable products to their final destination. This created additional expenses for Delfina as she had to pay high transport fees. Because of this, she carefully saved up enough to buy her own lorry, reducing her expenses considerably.
Bringing hope to the whole community
Life continues to be a struggle for the many, like Delfina, living on the edge of the landfill site in slum communities but Delfina’s businesses are helping to bring a glimmer hope.
As the businesses continue growing, she has been able to purchase recycled materials from 40 scavengers enabling them to daily bring money home to their families. Her family too are all involved and have been inspired to begin their own businesses.
Delfina shines for Jesus in all she does. Others are motived by the love and kindness they receive from Delfina and her employees, she contributes financially to others during difficult times, supports her church and has shown that no obstacle is too big when the Lord is by your side.
Other women have been empowered to start their own businesses and Delfina has freely shared her experience with them:
I have given them an opportunity and have taught them everything I know so that they too can grow, start their own businesses and go out on their own, God gives enough for everyone.
Delfina is constantly searching for opportunities to grow and innovate in her businesses. She is currently saving to purchase a second lorry. Daily she is encouraged to grow personally, spiritually and in her business, in order to positively impact her family and community.
Inspired by Delfina’s story today? Have a go at turning something you would usually throw out into something useful; an old glass jar into a tealight holder, a plastic milk bottle into a plant pot or a cardboard box into a cardboard castle. As you make your creations, praise God for the ways he cares for the broken and discarded, and the ministry of Potter’s House as they live this out serving many vulnerable people across Guatemala.