As soon as Casita started, we started to realize the need for developing programs that addressed the challenges that single mothers in the community of Copán Ruinas face. We’ve always been focused on building strong relationships with our moms so that we can be a support system for both them and their children. Casita provides the essential resource of child care, and we regularly involve our mothers in informative meetings focused on health and parenting issues. Plus moms come to volunteer both at the children’s center and with community events to encourage greater involvement in their children’s live and the development of our organization. And now thanks to a generous grant from Mary’s Pence and contributions from some committed donors, the women’s program we’ve been dreaming of is finally coming to life.
In typical Casita style, we dove right in. In late June, we launched the literacy portion of our women’s program. Three nights a week, our moms (many of whom have never attended a day of school in their lives) come to Casita to learn, share, and express themselves in a safe and supportive environment. Our moms are motivated by their dreams to own their own businesses and be their own bosses, to finally have a life that they can dictate. And of course we provide child care and snacks for both moms and kids. We coordinated with the local Ministry of Education so that we can be a certified education center and provide official diplomas to our moms as they complete each grade of primary school. Once they graduate, they can continue to pursue higher education here in Honduras.
Our teacher and the new director of the Women’s Program, Iliana Aldana, can’t stop singing the praises of her students. One of these students is Mami Juana, our beloved employee who is more than 60 years old. Her husband teases her that she’s too old to learn, but she’s determined and her grandkids are ecstatic at the idea of helping their favorite grandmother with her homework. The other moms are also progressing rapidly. Already they’ve expressed interest in learning math, especially business math that can help them if they want to start their own business.
Listening to their dreams has helped our new Women’s Program start to take shape. Right now we are focused on literacy and also deeply assessing the needs of the women we serve. We are conducting in-depth interviews with each of the moms we serve to learn where we can have the greatest impact. In the next month, we’ll be organizing a schedule of trainings, special meetings, activities, and events that focus on health, life-skills, relationship development, friendship, parenting, and more. This schedule will morph into the map of our program, a responsive and flexible program designed to equip our moms with skills and confidence in the areas listed above. As our moms progress through the program, they’ll participate in hands-on trainings and activities that can help them start living healthy, happy, and productive lives. When our moms complete all the activities, they will be eligible to apply for a micro-grant or micro-loan to start their own business, either alone or with the new friends that they’ve made during the program.
More than anything, we hope to foster an environment where women feel safe, respected, and appreciated for who they are. We hope to support connections and real friendships that can help our moms realize they are not alone. This is already happening in our literacy classes – women who once considered themselves friendless are now laughing and sharing stories three nights a week with other women who understand exactly what they’re going through. And of course they’re learning to read too!
Stay tuned for more information about the specifics of our women’s program. We should have more detailed plans coming out after we finish the exploration phase. As always, thank you to our amazing supporters who have helped make this possible. And if you are interested in supporting our women’s program, you can make a tax-deductible donation here. Remember donations from people like you are what keeps our programs going.