On any given day, you’ll find Erika trekking through the streets of Cusco, Peru toting a 50-pound cooler of papas rellenas. And when you do find her, do yourself a favor and buy that tater. Once you’ve tasted these traditional stuffed potatoes, just thinking of them is enough to make you salivate. Even though it’s harder, Erika would rather carry her cooler than push a cart because it gives her the mobility to find business instead of waiting for it.
Erika’s bright smile and gratitude reflect little of the history that landed her in the women’s shelter where we found her. She was raped at 16 and the resulting pregnancy forced her to drop out of high school. Though she couldn’t provide for the child, who lived with her parents, she longed to simply share a meal with him. Her second son has a heart defect and, like any mom, she worries about being able to provide for his medical needs.
Yes, Erika’s life has been difficult, but you won’t find her talking about her past much. She’s more interested in working toward her future. She once made and sold enough gelatin parfaits (at 30 cents a piece) to buy a piece of land for 3,000 soles. That’s 10,000 gelatin parfaits in just one year!
Erika’s two most dearly-held goals are to
- Live with and provide for both of her kids and her younger sister
- Build a home on that gelatin-funded land so her kids will always have a place to live
This mom-trepreneur, with her big heart and strong fight, represents the Nuevo Camino!