The last CAPTA group we graduated was very special; we tweaked a few things during the “fundamental cycle” and got excellent results. To begin, we decided to make an alliance with Malambo, an organization thatcould refer some girls to our program. We did not consider these alliances because the organization works in areasoutside of our focus community; however, this time we decided that opening up space for women in need outside the community could turn out to be a success. Malambo is an orphanage in Panama that rescues girls living in poverty or exposed to violence. The tendency with these orphanages is usually to shelter beneficiaries from outside danger, but they unintentionally make them dependent on a system that is meant to let them go when they reachadulthood.
Five girls came in from Malambo: they were shy, they usually coordinated to wear the same colors, one girl spoke for them all and they also had the same likes and dislikes. Slowly, our psychologist began to work on these traits and asked the class facilitators to separate them and to make them speak for themselves, exploring their individual abilities, likes and dislikes. In just 4 short weeks, the progress seen with these girls was phenomenal. Theyall walked and spoke with confidence and it was apparent that something had changed.
Following this experience, we have decided to also join forces with Divina Gracia, another orphanage hosting girls that have suffered violent crimes. These alliances are helping us change more lives, we are taking girls who need training and professional skills to survive once they leave their “homes.” We are closing a gap by educating girls that come from a different system but also need the personal attention and professional training that we can provide at no cost.
Finally, I’d like to announce that we are also celebrating a new phenomenon with our last CAPTA course: of 18 women who graduated only 2 weeks ago, 14 are currently employed! We attribute this to the changes that wemade in our program for example, treating the girls as regular students who must work hard to earn a title. The specific changes include giving them homework, making them study, having them research various topics and create projects according to what they research. These changes have produced wonderful results and we will continue to implement these with other courses.
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