Blanca gazes at the horizon thinking about how a tough decision, bravely taken in the blink of an eye, changed her life: the courage of her 16-year-old daughter, fed up with seeing her mother suffering her father’s abuse. Belkis told her “Ma, it’s over”, and they left with no more than the clothes on their backs to start an uncertain but unshackled life.
A year later they were able to find a home located at a modest neighborhood in the Colombian municipality of Cúcuta. They have just started building their house with wood and zinc panels, but it is a refuge where there is room for their dreams and to get ahead. Before daybreak, on a small stove Blanca is already preparing hallacas, meat-filled corn pancakes that Belkis sells door-to-door to their neighbors.
Blanca’s face lights up when she speaks about her daughter, who is studying Early Learning Education. With a maturity beyond her years, Belkis is sure of one thing: “If we hadn’t tried, we would not be here now, experiencing life as a beautiful thing, one that is very different than what we had thought, than the imprisonment we used to suffer. It is very hard to start from scratch if you don’t have anyone who believes in you and who can help, financially and emotionally”.
600 kilometers away, in Pore, Alejandra Buitrago lives with her parents who are farmers and raise animals. On the farm where they have built their house with its whitewashed walls, covered in flowers, they grow fruit and vegetables for export .
“There was no school in the countryside and I had to walk. Whenever I felt discouraged, my parents would tell me to think about my future, that there are very few opportunities, but that I could have a better future”, reminisces Alejandra. She has always lived surrounded by animals, which has led to her vocation to train as a veterinarian, because she knows better than most people that having access to one is a luxury that many remote communities cannot even hope for.
Olga Ortiz was not able to study. “I had no access to education. I have been an entrepreneur my entire life, fighting to survive”, she states. As a seamstress she never dreamed that, thanks to her workshop, victims of the Colombian war and the guerrilla would live together, enjoying the traditional parties that girls usually celebrate on their 15th birthday. Olga organizes the parties and makes the dresses, which she has adapted to the scarce resources of her neighbors in Dabeiba.
The day that Olga cut up an one of her daughter Kelly’s old dresses turned out to be the start of a business that has transmitted her passion for fashion design to Kelly, a degree that she has been studying for two years. “My mother is the personification of the fighting entrepreneur, who was hit hard by the conflict and who even so looked after us and pulled herself up”.
These three stories could belong to millions of people around the world who try to escape poverty, working hard under difficult circumstances. What makes them different is the opportunity that their protagonists found in the BBVA Microfinance Foundation (BBVAMF), the opportunity to get on in life.
The people in the stories could be farmers, artisans, or street vendors, like most of those supported by the Foundation with financing for their businesses, as well as with training and other products, such as savings accounts and insurance.
Blanca has been receiving financing to buy the ingredients for her pancakes, Alejandra’s father to buy cows and seeds, and Olga to invest in fabric and sewing machines. Being an entrepreneur is like “a vitamin for the brain”, says Olga.
Belkis, Alejandra and Kelly were awarded university grants by Bancamía, the Foundation’s institution in Colombia, and BBVA Colombia, opening up an academic future which was more uncertain for them because of their socioeconomic circumstances. They have already been studying for two years and their parents are prouder of them every day.
After the rain is a documentary produced by BBVAMF for its 15th anniversary in honor of the nearly six million entrepreneurs it has supported over this period.
Directed by Ofelia de Pablo and Javier Zurita, experts in social cinema from Hakawatifilm, this documentary is an example of how microfinance enables low-income families to improve their lives, creating real-life plans for the future, to show how, after the rain, it always stops and the sun comes out … and that sometimes, with a little luck, you can see a rainbow.
After the Rain, the making of