My name is Agustina, my mother is a housemaid, my dad is a chauffer and I have 7 brothers. Seventeen years ago I arrived to the city with a dream to start my own business. My aunt and I started a restaurant but not everything turned out as we planned. The business broke financially and we had to sell absolutely everything to pay off debts. I was completely broke and alone, when I met someone who tried to help me I fell in love and I thought he was the man of my dreams. He helped me start another business selling fried foods in Santa Ana (urban community in Panama City), but I barely made enough to feed my daughter.
With time, the relationship went sour. He was rude and would mouth-off when he got home drunk; he cheated and didn’t respect me, I was constantly humiliated. I realized that he got worse with time and I decided to leave him. I felt trapped and then I found out that I was pregnant with his child. I felt that my life had lost meaning. I continued to work at the stand but it wasn’t enough, we didn’t have enough to eat and didn’t live well.
One day as I was walking to the local church, I ran into a gentleman who started talking to me about something called Calicanto. A few days later, I signed up for the CAPTA course. At first I thought it was a little silly and I was also scared since I didn’t have any skills or preparation for this course.
I still remember the first day when we met Ms. Hildegard, she said that this was a day for change and that from that moment on, we would start our new life. During the course, I woke up at 4:00 a.m. every day; it was really tough! I had to organize myself and learn to do things with time.
I started to value myself and I saw that there were so many women like me who had gone through similar difficulties. These women were my friends, I learned to love myself through them while learning a new skill. I have been employed now for 4 years as a housekeeper in a hotel located in Casco Antiguo. I work and enjoy what I do. I am starting to learn English and I hope to get a better position in the future.
I own my home, which I bought with my savings and hard work.
CAPTA changed my life. Help Calicanto keep changing lives.
These past few months have been full of exposure for our kids in Enlaces. From August 14th to August 17th, two of our best students were part of the cast of the show “Hansel & Gretel”, directed by the renowned Spanish choreographer Fernando Hurtado. Eight performances in Panama City’s National Theatre showed the public and us that our kids are ready to show the world what they love to do, and they do it marvelously!
Also, at the end of August, the kids of Enlaces had their “End of term” presentation in our premises, with a full house. The program consisted of a 15 minute play, two ballet demonstrations and three contemporary dance pieces, that they had been working with their teachers for the last three months.
As much as they enjoy the process of creation and execution, showing their work and their efforts is as important for us as for our little artists. It is an opportunity for the community, their families and their peers to get involved in their work and provide feedback, recognition and bonding that reinforce their talent and self-expression.
Over the last few weeks one of the assignments given to the CAPTA students was to write a personal evaluation of themselves. In an overall period of four hours the students were able to write what their actual situation was and who they thought they were. The purpose of this exercise was to help the students develop a picture of who they really are and who they can be. Most of the women in CAPTA are victims of domestic violence and have low-levels of education so this exercise is extremely important for self-exploration and goal setting.
The following self-evaluation written by Yajaira Quinoz, shows her thoughts of who she is and what she wants to be, at the end of her piece she makes a short list of her life goals.
My current situation:
Personally, I am like any other mother struggling with the kids, trying to make sure they grow up in a good place. The place I live in currently is not all bad but can have various unfriendly consequences if you’re not careful. In my household, there is only one income and as we all know, everything is getting more expensive and its hard to maintain a family of 5 with a minimum wage salary. I feel obliged to find a path that will take my family to another level.
I am aware that not everyone likes me. Of course, I’m not a sweetheart, but that doesn’t hinder the amount of qualities I know I have; I am a very responsible person, I make sure that everything I do was done the best as possible, I am and learned to become more social here at Calicanto, and like to make friends with people who share different opinions than me. I’m a very joyful person, and it’s not easy for anyone to upset me. I have a strong character but it still doesn’t change the fact that I am very loving in my own way.
Who am I?
For the last couple of weeks I’ve been discovering who I truly am. I realized that I can be better, and change not just for me, but also for my family. That is why I want to be much more than what I’ve been until today.
Today, I learned today how strong I am as a person and I know I want to be the best example my kids will ever have.
To own a home
Education for my children
*It is important to note that the next 2 hours of the course, which will be taught in up coming weeks, will allow her to develop her goals and add more context to what she plans to do after CAPTA training.