This pandemic reminds me of tough times when I was young. As seasonal employees, work was not always easy to find for my family – much as it is right now for many farm workers in the area. Sometimes lack of work left us with little money for food. Chile and frijoles (beans) rolled up in a tortilla was all we ate.
The COVID-19 pandemic brings similar challenges for some of our Tierra Vida community, but it also provides an opportunity for youth to spend time discovering their gifts and talents. Once discovered, we’ve seen individuals lean into their passions and build resilience, giving them the courage and wherewithal to shoulder tough times.
In March, the Lucatero family suffered a financial hardship when both parents lost their jobs due to COVID-19. Unable to access support from local agencies, the stress from their unemployment compounded and they began to lose hope. Worry consumed them, and their three children began showing signs of stress.
Christian, the Lucatero’s youngest son, began to participate in Jubilee’s guitar classes, however, and found an interest in learning how to play the bass. As he progressed, he wanted his own guitar, and searched for one through the internet and friends. When he found one, however, he became disheartened as his parents were unable to afford it.
Undaunted, Christian realized that he needed to find a way where he could make the money himself. Christian and his parents brainstormed different ways he might do this, and they settled with the idea of selling cherries. With his parents’ support, he started selling bags of the fruit for $5-$10 each. After the cherry season, he started selling corn in a cup (Esquites) with Mexican Cheese and sour cream for $2.50. As his business grew, he expanded even further, offering Tejuino in a cup (cold beverage made of fermented corn).
Before he knew it, Christian was taking orders and offering home delivery to residents in the Tierra Vida community. He even took the initiative to market the products online. With his earnings, he had half the cost of the guitar and his father stepped in to offer a small loan to cover the other half.
Through this experience, Christian’s stress diminished, and he found yet another God given gift in entrepreneurship. “This is something that I’ve always wanted to do – it’s a dream come true,” said Christian. In the bitterness of business closures and unemployment due to COVID-19, this young man was able to look deeper into himself and find a regenerative force that offered hope and light.