As the youngest of seven siblings, Nohelia comes from humble beginnings. Her father was physically abusive to her mother, and when she was quite young, her parents separated. As a result, Nohelia and her siblings were raised by her single mother and her maternal grandmother. Her grandmother, who she affectionately refers to as “Mamita,” often took care of the children while her mother was at work. Not having any support from Noehlia’s father or any education, Nohelia’s mother worked hard, long hours and made many sacrifices to keep her family fed.
Despite her difficult upbringing, Nohelia says she considers herself a greatly blessed woman. Of all her siblings, she was the only one who had the opportunity to get an education. Unfortunately her older brothers were not allowed the same opportunity because they always worked to support the family.
Nohelia, unlike many from similar circumstances, graduated from high school. When she was 20 her only child, Fernando, was born. Her young family’s home was often unstable due to her husband’s abusive behavior. In 2011 Nohelia applied for a position in the Mission Lazarus accounting office. She was very excited when she got word that she’d been hired. It was at Mission Lazarus where she began to dive deeper in her own spiritual journey due largely to the daily staff Bible studies. In 2014 Nohelia says that she felt God calling her to be baptized. It was after giving her life to Christ that she finally had the courage to take her son and leave her abusive husband.
Nohelia has raised Fernando on her own. She says that her son motivates her and inspires her every day. Fernando was just in second grade when Nohelia started working for Mission Lazarus, and in 2021 he graduated from high school. Nohelia is proud to say that she has been able to provide for him largely due to her stable employment at Mission Lazarus.
Work is a privilege to Nohelia. She says it is not by chance that she arrived at Mission Lazarus. In 2018, an opportunity arose at San Lazaro Coffee, and Nohelia accepted the position as our farm manager. She states that as manager, she identifies very much with her team of warrior women who fight every day for their children and who face difficult circumstances like she has.
While managing the weekly progress of our annual coffee crop is the focus of Nohelia’s position, she does much more. She oversees the entire process from planting seedlings to processing the harvest and preparing the export of our coffee to the US. She also runs our roastery in Honduras that sells coffee locally in our region. And she is the host for many visitors to the farm throughout the year. Whether they found our farm on Airbnb or if they come with a service team, Nohelia’s attention to a great stay is evidenced by the hundreds of happy visitors to the farm annually.
Nohelia considers it a great blessing to be able to walk alongside the women she works with on the farm and help them see the value that they have. She says that more important than the physical work they do is the work on their inner selves. They work on realizing their dignity as people and as women, on feeling proud of their work, and on being grateful to God for sustaining them and using them to enhance his kingdom.
One of Nohelia’s greatest blessings is owning her own home, which she considers a dream come true. She states that she always prayed for a house for herself and her son. She didn’t dream of owning something fancy or opulent - she simply wanted a place to call her own, no matter how large or small. In 2015, Mission Lazarus helped bring her dream of homeownership to fruition. She has now enjoyed many happy years in her own house.
It’s incredible to see how through faith, hard work and determination, Nohelia has created a better life for herself. She inspires us and the women on our coffee farm to rise above difficult circumstances and to keep moving forward, no matter what comes our way. May her story be an inspiration to you today!