Sonia Oliva was abandoned by her husband at the age of twenty-four, and left alone and without
any economic support to care for their two little children. She went to live with her parents, who
in their poverty were only able to give her one room in their house.
Sonia acquired a loan of US$100 from FIE and began making pasteles (pastries), and selling
materials such as buttons and zippers to tailor shops. With some of the money she was earning,
she began to take a beauty course. She attended classes at night while working and caring for her
children during the day. She was not able to leave her children in the care of her parents because,
as she explains, "my mother is too old and no longer has the patience needed to understand them.
She fights with them, often hitting them. They need to be with me."
Upon finishing her beauty studies, with a loan from FIE she was able to achieve her greatest
dream, opening her own beauty salon. She can now rely on these earnings to cover the needs of
her and her children. She knows she has worked very hard, but realizes it was well worth it.
Sonia now hopes to hire employees and expand her business.