Santos Albertina Gonzalez Ruiz had a very tough time through her entire youth in Nicaragua. But now in that land where poinsettias grow in the wild, every day feels like a celebration. Her last sight of her father was when she was five. Her mother struggled and traveled long distances to work as a maid. During those absences, Santos and her siblings lived with a cruel and abusive caretaker. Finally, her mother put enough resources together to buy a small piece of land. On it she built a one-room home of cardboard and plastic. They slept in one bed, lying sideways, with their feet overhanging, so they could all fit.
But Santos wouldn’t give up, she entered first grade at 12 years old. She finished three years of high school and two of technical school. She studied agriculture. This is where she met Pablo, who became her husband. Heifer came into their lives three years ago. It was evident that she knew more about farming than many others. They helped her develop and manage a seed bank. Heifer furnished barrels to store seeds, sifters to clean them and a large stock of seeds to build inventory. The seed bank was very successful and attracts buyers from a large area. Santos drives a hard but fair bargain. “When a producer comes in and says, ‘I need a sack of seeds,’ we will give it to them. But here is the deal, we will give you one seed, but at harvest you must give two back.”