ViviendasLeón (VL) would like to extend its spotlight to Leonor Zepeda who is a part of VL Nicaragua team. Leonor was born and raised in the city of León, Nicaragua. At the young age of eight, Zepeda's mother passed away. This left Zepeda without her mother and just her father. Now, Zepeda has a five-year-old son and shared that he is the reason she wakes up every day and keeps working hard. When posed with the question of what interested her to pursue this career she shared that years ago she worked in the area of entrepreneurship. This led her to have a passion for helping small businesses while also collaborating with these businesses in creating new ideas. Zepeda's past inspired her to do the work she currently does with ViviendasLeón which includes working towards VL’s mission to equip and empower rural communities to be agents of their own transformation.
ViviendasLeón aims to provide basic tools for empowerment so that rural communities can support themselves. VL and Zepeda work to create a safe and reliable environment where people can feel comfortable in building new skills. Things however have changed since the beginning of the pandemic.
Since the start of COVID, there have been many changes to folks’ daily life as well as their work routine. Leonor shares that there have been many negative effects especially on the operations of the projects and programs that she is a part of. Because of the virus, many of the training and technical visits were suspended. Leonor spoke about the negative impacts had COVID restrictions but she said they must suspend these programs in order to protect themselves as well as beneficiaries in their programs. COVID has not only affected people economically but also emotionally and mentally. She shared, “Unfortunately it is a situation that has marked us all equally, a very difficult situation in every sense, economies are declining worldwide, issues with lack of employment and therefore insecurity...” What she shared is reflective of what many of the people in her country and community are going through. This pandemic has changed how people globally live their lives; however, Zepeda is committed to staying strong for her family. Despite the hardships she faces and living through a pandemic, Leonor remains strong. Part of this strength comes from her powerful sense of resilience.
Resilience is one word out of many that can be used to describe Zepeda and the beneficiaries of ViviendasLeón’s programs. She faced several hardships and situations in her life that have gifted her this courageous drive. Despite her difficult upbringing, Leonor’s resilient nature is reflected in her work. Leonor shared words of hope, “[. . .] we speak positively, if we can get ahead in a crisis like this, you have an important tool and it is your land to be able to plant and undertake something new, and this will help people globally to fight against the food crisis.”
This advice not only pertains to COVID but, life in general and the contributions we make to alleviate poverty for these rural families. Zepeda shares that although she has faced many hardships in her life, she is empowered by God and her strong nature. She shared that in her work in HCT, “we deal a lot with the emotional part of people associated with entrepreneurship and it is because of this that we speak positively, that if you can get ahead in a crisis like this, you have a very important tool and it is your land to be able to sow and undertake something new and thus solve a huge problem that we are experiencing worldwide and that is the food crisis.” At ViviendasLeón we work to empower and equip these rural communities and are able to do this because of staff such as Leonor Zepeda.
Written By Paulina G., Social Advocacy Intern