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A Widowed Mom Back in Business

Field Report by Dina Sleiman

MEXICO – Life was challenging enough for Roxana as a widow and mother of two children. However, when the earthquake struck Mexico, she lost her apartment and her dessert business as well.

At only 28 years of age, Roxana had already lost her husband, and was raising and supporting ten-year-old Paul and four-year-old Alison on her own. The family had been saving for a home and a motorcycle to help transport and sell their baked goods, but when her husband passed away, all of their resources went towards his funeral and restarting their lives.

After the earthquake Roxana tried to keep her bakery business going with old, borrowed supplies.

Since that time, Roxana has supported her family by making and selling desserts on her own. Then she faced another hardship when her apartment was robbed, and the proceeds from her sales were stolen. Still, Roxana didn’t give up and kept working hard to support her family.

Roxana remembers the trauma the night the earthquake hit. She had been working late, preparing baked goods to sell the next day, while her children slept. First she noticed unusual lights out her window, then everything began to shake.

Roxana and her kids weighed down with bins of baked goods.

Leaping into action, Roxana took Alison in her arms, but she could not wake Paul, who slept soundly. And he was too big for her to carry. Roxana stood there for precarious moments, torn. She felt certain the building was about to crumble around them, but she couldn’t bring herself to leave Paul. Then her neighbor, a high school teacher, shouted for Roxana.

“I can’t get my son out,” Roxana cried. The neighbor rushed inside, despite the quakes, and pulled out Roxana and the two children just in time. Once beyond the apartment building, the shaking threw them all to the ground. Soon other neighbors gathered around to check on Roxana and the children. They were fine, but their home and source of income were gone.

Roxana had to start from scratch with her dessert business and her household once again. “I felt very bad because I have struggled to buy things, and at some point I thought: what am I going to do? …My investment, my things, were all ruined.”

Operation Blessing workers putting together new kitchen materials for Roxana.

She managed to borrow and salvage some old cooking equipment but had much less capacity for making her baked goods. Roxana and the children would hand carry the desserts in bins to the markets where they could sell them. Sometimes, if sales weren’t good, they would trek across town to try a different location. The conditions for her business were far from ideal, and Roxana was struggling.

That’s when Operation Blessing found their family. OB Mexico has been helping with every phase of earthquake relief and recovery from day one. Now, they are helping destroyed businesses to rebuild. In addition to giving Roxana a new stove, equipment, cookware, and supplies, Operation Blessing’s generous partners also gifted her a new tricycle cart to carry her goods! Roxana and her children will no longer have to lug their wares around town in heavy bins.

Roxana and her children with their new carrying cart for their dessert business from Operation Blessing.

The cart will also allow her to transport the children, keep them safe, and travel farther to sell her baked goods.

Roxana said, “I have never felt something like this. Never has anyone given me a gift, ever!” This hand up from Operation Blessing, made possible by supporters like you, will allow Roxana’s dessert business to thrive. As her son Paul said, “Thank you for all, now my mom will be able to work much better.”

Allison, age 4, happily holding her new doll.

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