March is Women’s History Month, a wonderful opportunity to celebrate women all over the world. At Common Hope, we are fortunate to see the achievements that women of all ages are making every day with their families and in their communities. These accomplishments can be small but mighty, like a preschooler writing her name for the first time, a teenager who joins the Señoritas Líderes (Girls Leadership Group), or a mother who attends Crianza Con Cariño (Nurturing Parenting Program). Many of these women have to overcome many obstacles to achieve their goals, but they are strong and persistent, and they serve as wonderful examples for the rest of us.
One such example is Doña Susy. Susy never had the chance to go to school, so her options for employment are limited. She works washing clothes twice a week and looks for jobs when she can. For years, Susy dealt with a difficult home life. She was underweight, closed-off from friends, and she had low self-esteem. After joining Common Hope’s programs in 2010, her social worker, Lesbia, helped her set goals for herself and her family. It was a challenging road to take, but Doña Susy took action in order to empower herself and improve her family’s situation.
As a mother of 4 who never learned to read, Doña Susy’s knew that an education for her children was critical saying, “It’s important that my children get an education because I never had the opportunity to study and I’m fighting for my children to have something that I did not.” She became very active in many Common Hope programs, including the Reading Promotion Program, which was created to help parents share books with their children even if they can’t read themselves. Last year, Doña Susy and her son Wilson, who was 4 at the time, participated in the program every Thursday and they never missed a class.
After Wilson graduated from the program, Doña Susy said, “The program helped me as much as it helped my son. At first he didn’t want to participate because he was scared. Now he tells me, ‘Mom, I have a teacher and I want to go to school and have my own books.’ He’s really coming out of his shell.” The program also motivated Doña Susy to learn things that were new to her and different from her everyday routine.
Now, Doña Susy continues to make visits to our library in Antigua to borrow books. She even has 15 neighborhood kids and their mothers who come to her house every week to read. This is just one example of the ways that Doña Susy is achieving her own goals, while also helping members of her community. Though she admits it wasn’t an easy path to follow, Doña Susy said fighting for her children’s education and wellbeing has been well worth it. And with a mother’s smile, she concluded saying,
“I help my kids so they are able to come out ahead in life. I tell them their schooling is the most important thing. I don’t want my kids washing clothes or cleaning houses when they get older. It’s important to work for and fight for what lies ahead and to not look back.”
A bright future is what lies ahead for Doña Susy and her family, and it’s because she was willing to take a risk. It is our hope that we can help all women, young and old, who are mothers or daughters or sisters or grandmothers, to take action to better their lives.