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!
The CAPTA program consists of two phases, the Foundation Cycle and the Vocational Training. After the first four weeks, the CAPTA class has successfully managed the Foundation Cycle and enters the second phase. At this point, the CAPTA women can choose between receiving training as housekeeper assistant or as waitress. For the next two weeks, the women will receive training in their area of choice at the Panama International Hotel School followed by a one-week internship at the hotels of the Bern Group in Panama.
For the first three days, the women enrolled as housekeeping assistants receive a general introduction in the fields of qualitative service, hygiene, personal appearance, telephone answering and others. On the fourth day, the women learn how to do tasks related to their future occupation; these are then practiced under supervision for the rest of the time at the hotel school.
The women enrolled as waitresses have three days of general introduction covering similar fields as for the housekeepers, followed by four days of instruction. The second week is then fully dedicated to practicing the learned under supervision.
This week, the twenty-one women are interning at different hotels throughout Panama.
Thank you for making all this possible! Thanks to GlobalGiving donors, two of this women were able to enroll and finish CAPTA course. You helped them to change their lives!
All of us in Calicanto are very proud of this women from our community, wish them great success and are looking forward to a beautiful graduation ceremony on August 24th. It is touching to see how far these women came in just seven short weeks and we also want to share with you this magical moment as they take the first steps in their new life: take a look at the invitation in our website or to last June Group's Graduation video!
You can continue helping more women to do so donating again or telling your friends about us and why you believe in this project: invite them to become our fans in Facebook to get to know us better.
Best regards from all the Calicanto Team.
May we introduce: Fourth CAPTA Class July 2011
On July 4th, 2011 a group of 22 women started the CAPTA program from Fundacion Calicanto. This courses group includes 9 women from the district Santa Ana, 3 from El Chorillo, 2 from each Las Cumbres, Curundu, Arraijan and Calidonia and 1 each from San Felipe and La Chorrera.
Thanks to our GlobalGiving donors, two of this women were able to enroll this class!! We want to invite all our donors to keep on helping so we can achieve our goal of 20 Women sponsored by GlobalGiving donations to be able to graduate from CAPTA. Talk to your friends about this program that is changing so many lives!!
Edilsa, one of the participants, says that she is thrilled about the course, and until now what she has really liked the Emotional Intelligence module, because it has given her the tools to understand and to deal with pain.
The program initiated in 2005, with one to two courses annually has become increasingly popular. In 2010, for the first time 3 courses graduated and this year 7 courses will graduate!! Further, since July 2011, the inscription to the CAPTA course is now open all year and no longer limited to seminal periods. Women wishing to apply can do so directly at the main office of Fundacion Calicanto (see our Website).
We congratulate the Fourth CAPTA Class July 2011 and wish them all the best!
On Monday June 27th the CAPTA May-June Group graduated in a beautiful ceremony at the Holiday Inn Hotel where the Panama International Hotel School is located.
It was a very special act, that began with each graduate presenting to the public her goals for the next five years. To see this women focused, full of hope, and wishing to work hard to achieve their dreams was the best reward for every member of Fundacion Calicanto's team and all their instructors and teachers.
They also presented a socio-drama, in which they shared with the public their realities at home, and what it takes them to be able to commit and enroll in the CAPTA course.
Xiomara Gonzalez, spoke in behalf of all the students, and thanked Fundacion Calicanto's donors and friends for their support and for believing in them.
Each participant received two certificates: one for the Fundamental Cycle and the other for the Vocational Training, which were presented by Hildegard Vasquez, Fundacion Calicanto's Executive President and Roberto Jean Francois and Johnny Luna representing the Hotel School.
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