My name is Dalys Rodriguez, I am the new program director for Fundacion Calicanto. I have been here four weeks and I am writing this report as a true testament of the change I have seen in the women since my arrival. I startedworking with the CAPTA program about 6 months ago as the English volunteer and fell in love with the program and the girls from the very first day. I remember my first day like it was yesterday, I had never taught English before; I was scared, nervous and excited all at the same time. But as soon as I walked in through the classroom doors, I wasmotivated by the women’s joyful voices greeting me: “hello!”
My work schedule did not allow me to interact much with the girls during those first six months but being here full-time has allowed me to see firsthand, the incredible impact that the CAPTA program makes. My first full-time week here, I met women who were clearly timid, spoke softly or aggressively in some cases, and confidence levels were low from what I could perceive but now on my fourth week, the women I see are empowered, they walk and speak with pride and confidence. I was amazed at the change and it proved to me that our “Fundamental Cycle” which is the first five weeks where they learn about their self-esteem, how to channel emotions, resolve conflicts, and entrepreneurship among other courses, really is what makes a difference and helps these women change their outlook on life.
Monday November 21st, our sixth and final CAPTA group this year went on to the International Hotel School in Clayton, The City of Knowledge. Their smiling faces expressed excitement and anxiousness as they were embarking on this new journey in their lives. At the hotel school they will receive specialized training on customer service and proper housekeeping techniques from one of the best Hotel Schools in Panama.
They are all eager to learn and we wish them all the best. We’ll see them soon again at the Graduation Ceremony next December 7th.
I would also like to take this opportunity to let you all know that there is a new way you can help ensure that after these women graduate, they continue on their path to success. That’s right, Fundacion Calicanto realized that a permanent change requires more attention and continuous support so we have created a program that will do just that, and we have called it CONEXION.
CONEXION is our initiative to provide continuous support to our recipients from our programs CAPTA and Enlaces. This program ensures that our graduates stay on the right path because we provide additional occupational and personal training during monthly activities that focus on reinforcing values through educational seminars.
I invite you to visit our CONEXION page on Global Giving and learn more about this program.
Greetings to all and make sure you check out our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/fundacioncalicanto.organd follow us on twitter @fundcalicanto
As always, it is a pleasure sending CAPTA's reports. This program is really making a difference in the lives of panamanian women, most of them from the impoverished and violent areas surrounding the Historic District.
As I told you in the last report, we were wishing for the 18 women enrolled in the 5th course to finish it and graduate. Due to their background, and the fact that all of them were raised without a positive role model to teach them discipline and responsability, the commitment and focus to finish the course and graduate is always a challenge for every one of them. But they did it! They found the energy inside themselves and put the best of them to excel in the supervised practice during the vocational training, and for the first time, half of them had a first job offer even before graduating!
I am sharing with you photos of some of the ceremony highlights. One of the moments that always touches me deeply is when they enter the auditorium and dance in the stage. But is not any dance. Is one full of positivism, attitude and confidence in themselves. These 18 women flowing in the stage, some weeks ago were not able to stand up and talk in front of a teacher...and there they were: shinning!
The American Ambassador Phyllis Powers attended the ceremony. We are proudly recipients of the Carsi Grant given through American Embassy to continue our mission, because they believe in what we do. Like you also did, dear friend. Without our donors, CAPTA wouldn't exist!
On behalf of every member of Calicanto team, that has worked so hard and gone through ups and downs to get to this beautiful moment: Thank You!! As I told the women, when I saw them in the stage with a smile illuminating their faces: every minute of our daily work makes all the sense in the world!
Last Friday, September 30th, 18 women enrolled in CAPTA course finished the Foundamental Cycle and were happy and excited about what next monday would bring: the opportunity to begin their training as Housekeepers or Waitresses in Panama's most recognized Hotel School.
This is an opportunity that not everybody has. Specially if you come from one of the most violent and poor neighborhoods in town. But they did it!! They finished five weeks of preparation to get ready to take this challenge and find stable jobs that will take them out of poverty.
For the first time, the Foundamental Cycle includes Basic Entrepreneurship Modules like: Budget: Why and how, Savings: Planning Ahead, Basic Administration, Success Stories among others.
We wish them all lots of success and good experiences in this new phase of their CAPTA course! And we wish to see all 18 women in the Graduation Ceremony, next October the 19th!
On August 24th I was given the honor to attend the graduation of 21 young women, from some of the poorest and most violent neighborhoods of Panama, who have just completed the CAPTA course and are now ready to become social leaders.
The graduation was held at the Interoceanic Museum in the old town (Casco Viejo) of Panama City. The area in itself is an eclectic mix of rich and poor: it is becoming increasingly easy to find a multimillion dollar apartments opposite falling down and dilapidated buildings overrun by cats and small children with no parents. It is within these less glamorous buildings, the underworld of Panama City, that the beneficiaries of CAPTA come from.
The graduation ceremony is an opportunity to give these women a stage and allow for them to show how they changed as people, and what they intend to do with their new-found expertise. Hildegard Vaquez, project leader, gave a touching speech about how these women are more than just beneficiaries, they are friends. To each other and to Hildegard and the rest of the Calicanto Team, these groups of beneficiaries truly demonstrate the capability within every individual for change.
These women are now social leaders within their communities, and the seeds to continue the cycle of change.
With their new expertise in the hotel industry along with the encouragement and backing from Fundacion Calicanto, these women are now eligible to seek out a career previously unimaginable.
During the graduation ceremony the women performed a short skit demonstrating how Calicanto has changed their lives. The subject matters, although presented humorously, were drugs, violence, domestic abuse, lack of education, and lack of self-restraint, all of which these women were intimately connected with in a vicious cycle of poverty.
Calicanto not only breaks these women free from this cycle, but also provides them with the necessary tools to implement change in their communities.
As part of the ceremony, each woman was asked to say what they wish for most in the upcoming years. Nearly all of them were humble, asking for stability and opportunity. I have no doubt they will go far beyond this, and wish them every success!
Calicanto currently run 7 cycles (of CAPTA) a year. Each cycle aids between 18-25 women (roughly), and lasts for 7 weeks. Thus, 49 weeks of the year Calicanto staff and volunteers are involved in the lives of women living in poverty. I think their expertise, dedication, and willpower to succeed is admirable and unquestionable, and look forward to reading more reports from the CAPTA program and Fundacion Calicanto!
The fourth CAPTA group of 2011 graduated on August 29, 2011 with a beautiful ceremony in the Interoceanic Museum.
We were all touched as we watched how 21 women from some of Panama City’s poorest and most violent neighborhoods took over the stage, danced and sang introducing themselves in English: “Hello, my name is Odalys”, “Hello, my name is Aurelia”…and so on!
I hope you never get tired of our reports: for all of us at Calicanto, each graduation ceremony is an important event that we want to share with you. Because it means that we are changing lives. YOU are changing lives.
Without your generous donations, it would be impossible for us to continue. Thanks to GlobalGiving donors, two women were able to complete the seven week intensive course that began in July and gave them the tools to find a job and together with their families, break out of the poverty cycle.
The program proves to be successful: 19 of the women that graduated on the previous prom on June 27, 2011 are already working in the hospitality industry. And we certainly hope that this "July-August Class" will follow them on this road which is taking them, together with their families, towards a new life.
Enjoy the pictures and the video with the testimonials of this CAPTA class. I hope they’ll encourage you to continue supporting us!
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