Because she lost her home during Hurricane Mitch, Nery Gonzales Ruiz built a seventh house, this one for her own family. How well she remembers move-in day! “I was so poor I didn’t even have a spoon,” she says, shaking her head. “I cooked on a plank between two cement blocks. But I didn’t care, I was happy!”
Nery has had at least six careers. Until she was 26, she was a health worker at a tobacco company. She taught adult literacy. She was employed by a government agriculture project. Throughout, she was a housewife and tailor, sometimes teaching that skill in nearby rural communities.
Her husband left her and in order to support her six children, she did tailoring for 11 hours starting at 1AM daily. Finally, she found a woman to help her so she could attend classes in carpentry at Mujeres Constructoras.
Her brothers taunted her about “cleaning timber” (“I don’t clean timber! I make fine furniture!”) and about being weaker than men (“I have arms and legs and I am strong!”) Finally, she brought the biggest doubter to the workshop and got the last laugh: he realized she was serious. And was impressed. Learn more>