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Creating Change

The latest news, views and stories about our efforts to get children out of tobacco farming and into school

Interview with Valéria Konerat

by Luisa Siquerira | 11 April 2016
Interview with Valéria Konerat

Valeria used to work on her family farm, but since taking part in an ARISE baking course she has a new source of income. The money she earns is used to pay for adult labor so her children can stay in school. Find out more.

Can you tell a bit about yourself?

My name is Valéria Konerat, I’m 33 and I live in Linha de Rocinha in Arroio do Tigre, Brazil. I’m married to Leonel Bilhão, and we have four children Jennifer (15), July (12), Gabriel (7), and Enzo (2). I’ve always worked in family farming, helping Leonel plant tobacco.

Why did you attend the baking course?

I wanted to learn how to make bread, biscuits and cookies for my family. Before the course I didn’t really think about selling the things I made, I just wanted to bake better food for my family.

What did you like most about the course?

I liked everything about it. It was easy to understand and I could use ingredients I already had or those that were easy to buy.

Do you use what you learned?

I use most of the techniques and recipes, especially those for breads and cookies. I’ve even adapted some of my own recipes. I also apply what I learned about the importance of presentation. I’ve sold cookies, breads, cakes, and other baked products at EXPOTIGRE and Oktoberfest (fairs organized by ARISE), and I take part in ARISE Mothers Fairs.

How has the course changed your life?

Our financial situation has definitely improved and the children take part in ARISE afterschool programs. I have the chance for a new profession and my home cooking has also improved - my friends and neighbors all want to buy my bread!.

What are your goals for the future?

I still bake at home but one day I want to have my own bakery business and make different products. I already invest my profits in equipment so I can improve my sales – I bought a new electric oven. I also bought a roller with part of an ARISE family support scholarship. I’d like to learn how to sell better, and how to lower my costs.

What was your experience of the ARISE program?

I’m very thankful because it has given me the opportunity to learn and have a source of extra income. It’s still small, but hopefully it will increase in the future!