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“We are still poor, but before, we were poorer”

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Dilenia, frente a su humilde rancho.


By Dilenia Marina Montero Montero*

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Rc. – Money was not enough to cover anything. The needs for the house were acquired on credit from a Convenience store. At the end of the month, everything we earned was given to the store for what we had bought during the month.

Before, we would go from one place to the other in a motorcycle—a Honda C90 Scooter. Wherever we went, it always broke on the way.

Sometime ago, everything changed for good. We are still poor, but before, we were poorer. We paid all our debt, stopped buying on credit; we have developed the good habit of saving and we even bought a 0 km motorcycle, brand new.

How did we do it? One day I went to the Financial Literacy course to learn how to manage money. There, together with other families, I learned to differentiate between need and priority, investment and expense. We realized that although one may earn a little amount, we can save some from that amount. For example, we stopped buying some things that were necessary, but not priority items.

To describe this better, I can tell you, for example, that when a door-to-door salesman would come by with food, I used to take some pesos (official currency) and buy something for my kids. Now I do not buy food from these people. Instead, I make sure to feed them well at home. That is a priority. If we used to buy Coca Cola for lunch, we now drink water. If I see some nice shoes, I think about the two pairs I have and conform to that.

My oldest son goes to high school, and the little ones go to school. I know we cannot stop buying books and school supplies, since both education and health are priorities.

My husband works at Ferreteria Mercantil, and 9 years ago he was a janitor at the Western Medical Center. We are saving with the hope of gathering the necessary amount of money to give the down payment for the house from Habitat Dominican Republic.

About the Financial Literacy program

The program intends to train potential families in the roles and responsibilities of undertaking a credit with Habitat or with any other financial organization. Thanks to the program, over 500 thousand families in LAC have developed new capacities in the responsible management of their finances.

*Dilenia Marina Montero and her husband live in “La Lata”, one of the poorest neighborhoods of Dominican Republic.