May 12, 2006

An Immigrant’s Story

Manuela Bump Murillo: From selling fish on the streets to Latina leadership

By Ternot MacRenato

Manuela Bump Murillo, an immigrant from Honduras, arrived in the U.S. at age 18. Her story is both remarkable and inspiring. Hers is a story of hardship and triumph. A story most immigrants and descendants of immigrants would love to read about.

Manuela is a very successful saleswoman. She holds State licenses in Health Insurance and Securities 6 and 63. She was a top insurance agent for many years. Later, she switched to Real Estate where she became a top agent for Century 21 four years in a row. She has an Associate of Arts degree and her Real Estate Brokers License. Her success motivated her to open her own Real Estate Agency, Buena Casa Realty. She measures her success by the fact that several of her clients have become millionaires under her guidance. She is also proud of the fact that she has built her Real Estate Portfolio worth several million dollars in just six years.

Manuela is a mother of two wonderful children. Her son graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Finance and her daughter is a graduate of UCLA with a degree in Fine Arts. Manuela is also a devoted wife and the hub of her extended family; many of whom have followed her to the United States.

Manuela was born in a fishing village in the Caribbean side of Honduras and was one of nine children. Her father was a fisherman and her mother would plant corn and beans in the nearby mountains. Manuela learned how to work very early in life. She sold fish for her father and coconut candy for her mother starting at age five. In addition she helped her mother prepare the corn for the market. During this period of her life she had no shoes because her parents’ income was not enough to support the family.

When Manuela was seven years old a hurricane blew away their house. Her mother took the children to live in the city-San Pedro Sula, where Manuela started school. The family lived in a hovel and slept on the floor. They had to walk a long way to school and she owned only one pair of shoes that had to last the entire year. Her dresses were home made. To support her children her mother took in laundry and made tamales that Manuela would sell in the neighborhood. Their diet in those days consisted mostly of boiled green plantains and coarse beans. Many a night the children went to bed on an empty stomach.

She was later enrolled in a Catholic secondary school run by Spanish nuns. There she was trained to be a maid (a sirvienta). Her mother had to sew her uniforms at a great cost. The school provided the students with bread and milk. The students had to provide their own lunch, which was a major challenge.

Manuela is very active in the community. She has worked with the Flying Samaritans and Meals on Wheels. She has been a member of the House of Latin America and also a member of the National Latina Business Association. She is President of her Toastmaster Club.

Manuela’s most proud community project is the founding of La Mosquitia Project in Honduras. The Project includes a school for women and teaches nursing, cosmetology, sewing, arts and crafts. This project Manuela established through her Assembly of God Church. In the future they plan to build a library and train women for leadership roles. This remote, isolated and poor area reminds Manuela of her own roots and she is committed to see it prosper and to promote it worldwide.

Ternot MacRenato can be reached at: terteach@aol.com

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