In Nicaragua, Oracio Perez has been working since he was 15 years old. After struggling to find a job, he went to school to learn ceramics, and has made it his life's work for the past 25 years. "It's a family business. Six of us work together," he acknowledges.
Oracio and his family purchase the clay from a local mine. "We are blessed by God because we have a lot of clay around," he admits. To prepare the clay, potters like Oracio put it through a process to become "clay dough" – initially adding water to make it wet and then adding sand to make it malleable.
To create a piece of pottery, Oracio first kneads the clay with his hands, removing the grit, rocks and air bubbles to make a better product. He then starts to turn the pottery wheel with his foot. Oracio keeps his hands wet so he can shape the clay with ease. With plastic tools and cloths, he shapes and smoothes the clay as it spins.
Customers can purchase his pottery from local markets or come to his shop directly. As a client of MiCredito, MEDA's microfinance partner in Nicaragua, Oracio used his loan to improve the sanitation conditions of his pottery shop for his customers.
When asked what he loves most about pottery, Oracio admits "This process. I like to make the pieces, then the rest of the family does the painting and decorating."