A lot has changed since our last report. Not only in Panama, in the whole world.
What seemed to be a new disease that was affecting a few countries rapidly spreaded across the 5 continents.
Panama is a developing country, we were not ready for something like this but we had to quickly adapt in order to continue doing our job helping women in vulnerable situations.
Today the country is in strict quarantine due to the lack of attention from the public.
We got 558 cases and the numbers are going up quickly.
We had to rearrange our whole plan and start going digital, in order to support and educate these women and their families about the importance of basic hygiene and staying home as much a posible.
It was a bittersweet moment, because we were about to graduate 26 CAPTA beneficiaries, the spirits were high and all of a sudden everything changed.
We didn't got a chance to say “see you soon”, or give a last hug; we owned the situation and handled it with the strength and support that our beneficiaries needed.
We quickly set up a hotline for emotional support, and started a social media campaign in order to support and educate.
We are currently using tools like instagram to connect live with our audience and talk about our emotions, with the guidance of our psychologists.
Also as a non-profit we are working to connect all of our beneficiaries with the different programs our government is implementing to help all the people that are directly or indirectly affected by this situation.
As the situation develops we plan to run a food program to support the ones in need and collaborate with similar efforts.
This is the moment when we have to show the best we got and work together to get through this time supporting the ones who need it the most. Solidarity is our new economy!
After having successfully completed the first five weeks of the Fundamental Cycle of the CAPTA Program, 28 strong women manage to move on to the Vocational Cycle where, in teacher Victorino`s words: “GIVING UP IS NOT AN OPTION. This is the motto that keep you motivated to move forward to stand firm in the face of adversity and keep in mind your purposes.”
The Beginning of CAPTA 53 represented for some a dream to fulfill, for others a new hope, for some a new challenge and sacrifice but all agreed that CAPTA is a new opportunity to learn, improve, find themselves, continue growing and reaching that economic and emotional autonomy they need to get ahead.
No effort was spared, all had given their best and through the classes of Emotional Intelligence, conflict management, self-confidence, leadership, personal image, acting among others. They have been working on their purposes and we have seen these women strive firmly to learn and fulfill their tasks responsibly, improve their communication and draw strength from fears.
Undoubtedly, the first weeks become a school of life, allowing day-to-day strengthening and developing the social skills necessary in all living together, becoming more aware of the importance of physical and mental health, setting goals and expanding their preparatory technical skills to Job search.
Today, in this new stage, they get ready to know and develop skills in the technical vocational area, training as kitchen assistants and waitresses. Happy to have fulfilled their first goal and to start this second with renewed forces and their eyes set on that purpose, which they mentioned and have embraced since their first day at CAPTA.
Rilan, a 37-year-old woman with 5 children and who lives in Curundú, shares that CAPTA has changed her life, has learned that the attitude can open doors but also close doors and that she has made the decision to be a better person, mother and woman .
“My biggest change has been my attitude and rebellion, it was not positive. But now even if it's not perfect, I'm looking to be a better person every day because, selfishness is a darkness that keeps you in the shadows ” Rilan.
We wish Success for all in this new stage!
November has just ended, and with it the international stand against gender violence taken by women everywhere on the day of the 25th.
As an organization working with women in social vulnerability (trapped in cycles of violence and economic dependency), we see every day the consequences this kind of violence has on the women that go through it. We get to know them, we hear their stories, we try to mend their confidence broken by it, we change their perception of it, as well as the way they define love.
We know first-hand that going through gender violence is a brutal experience, from the experiences that the CAPTA women have gone through. We know what it can do to a person, to their sense of self, to the way they treat others as a result, to their motivation and the independence they feel they deserve…
This is why we created our social media campaign #NoEsNo at the beginning of the month. To educate and raise awareness in the population about the different types of violence, the prevalence of violence in vulnerable populations (based on figures from our CAPTA program), and the power of saying "NO".
On the 25th, like hundreds of women in several countries, we marched. To demand a better future for all women and girls, a real awareness of society and the enforcement of adequate protection laws to punish those responsible.
The day after that, we continued with a conversatory: "Gender Violence, a Reflective Look", which seeked to make people aware of this reality. The free event, for both men and women, started a conversation on the topic, what to do to avoid violence and how to support its victims.
This is not over yet though, since we are taking this campaign until the 10th of December. Through it, we hope to start a real conversation and leave an impact on society. Our goal is that, when it is no longer November 25, and the protesters and banners will not resonate in the streets, its lessons will remain and things will change for the better.
Apart from this, November was also a CAPTA month. First, the women went to the usual educational tour at the Panamanian Dell facilities, where they had job-related classes and workshops. They also participated in a Cultural Day, where they represented and learned about the different provinces in Panamá and their cultures (food, drink, dances, music…) alongside their families in an activity filled with color, laughter and good vibrations. As survivors of gender violence, they took a proud stand on the march of the 25th, united alongside our staff under our NOESNO banner, which they showed with conviction in front of passerbuys and protesters alike. Finally, this week, they started the second part of the program: the vocational training, where they began learning about cutlery, cooking, winery, and waitressing for any occasion. We’ll follow their progress closely and let you know how it goes.
For now, we will leave you with this. Today, Fundación Calicanto is taking part of the GivingTuesday fundraising event here on GlobalGiving. As you may or may not know, this #GivingTuesday, GlobalGiving is giving away $500,000 in matching funds to its nonprofit community members.
All funds raised at the event will go to our CAPTA program, which helps women in vulnerable situations to empower themselves and move forward through training in soft skills and technical knowledge in the area of restoration so they can get a job and break the cycle of violence and poverty in which they, their families and their communities find themselves.
To make these objectives a reality, we will need your help. How much we earn depends on how much you give. We've only got 24 hours to participate. So help us win big, and let’s keep changing lives together!
CAPTA 51’s ending, a graduation ceremony, Tertulias Humanas, new alliances… so much has happened these past few months. Let me get you up to speed.
Let’s start with CAPTA 51.
These past couple months, we focused on our CAPTA program through the following activities:
-18 classes as diverse as theater, entrepreneurship, ethics, work law... amongst others,
-A family day to celebrate the 500 years of Panama City’s existence,
-An academic excursion at the informatics company DELL, where the girls got a tour of the facilities, information about the vision, mission and objectives of the organization and the opportunities of employment, as well as classes like job search, work interview and success story,
-A Vocational Day, where our beneficiaries took an orientation test to guide them towards the best professional path for each and every one of them,
-A talk about work expectations with renowned chef Mario Castrellón and the head of Human Resources for the American Trade Hotel,
-Regular health visits and getting the group their health cards via an alliance with Santa Ana’s health center
-Restaurant Classes: the basics of table etiquette and waitressing,
-A certification in first aid via our 3 day-course in partnership with the Red Cross.
In preparation for it all, we made an alliance with the UTP (Technological University of Panama), and as part of it, the CAPTA women received informatics classes during the last week of August in a mobile unit located within their campus. Teaching our 19 beneficiaries, many of whom had never used a computer before, how to use one as well as the basics of Word and email.
Finally, to complete their training, we divided the group and assigned each woman to a restaurant for a week. These internships allowed them to experience firsthand the skills required on a job in the fields related to what they’d learned.
The graduation ceremony
On the 3rd of October, we completed this chapter in our beneficiaries’ lives with their graduation ceremony. This was the culmination of their efforts. For the occasion, everyone was there: families, friends, teachers, donors, the board of directors. It was a beautiful ceremony that took place at the International Canal Museum across the street. The event started by an introductory speech by our host, Alexandra Smith, which was followed by the entrance of the graduates and a few words from Hildegard Vasquez, the president of Fundación Calicanto. After this, the graduates participated in a “Ceremonia de la Vela” (or Candle Ceremony), where they took turns holding a lit candle and saying what they were grateful for and what they wished for themselves and their families. It was a very sensitive and emotional moment where the women shared their experiences and growth with those present in the room. Following this, we did “a look back on CAPTA 51” through a video documentary recapping the activities, experiences and feelings of the girls during the process.
Then began the award part. It started with special recognition diplomas for 2 teachers: Luis Montero (espiritu emprendedor) and Ana Gutierrez (English), which were delivered by Nefthaly Montenegro, director of the CAPTA program. Next up were the special category awards for 6 of the CAPTA program women, presented by Belkis Valencia and Cristina Silva, CAPTA psychologists and teachers. These awarded responsibility, positive attitude, personal image, participation, proactivity, and best intership. Rounding this up, were 2 announcements for “perfect smile packages” by Clinica Ford, an allied dental clinic.
It was about then that the most emotional part of the ceremony began. Alejandrina, the valedictorian of the program came up to the podium to give a really moving and inspiring speech about her life story, the reason she got into the program in the first place, the experiences she had while being there and how it changed her. Here are some extracts:
“When my daughter was asked, she insistently asked for a job for me. She said "a gift can be broken , but with a job, my mom could do and give so much more.””
“I went to the Foundation because I really needed it, I am a single mother and to date unemployed. Working was my greatest need at the time, I felt sad and insecure.”
“But in the CAPTA Program I have found much more than a job, I have found myself, I have realized that I am a hardworking, intelligent and capable woman. A woman who has known how to overcome and go on despite the tears. “
“My classmates agree with me that our days in the Foundation will forever mark our lives positively, from our experiences in classes to our vocational practice, there have been lessons that will always remain in our minds and hearts.”
“It will not be easy, especially when you have to decide to leave the care of your children to other people, learn how to manage what little you have and leave your comfort zone, but it’s not impossible if you make an effort. YOU CAN DO IT GIRLS ...”
Then came the part everyone was waiting for: the awarding of the diplomas. One by one, the girls went up on stage, in front of their friends and family, as well as the team that saw them grow. There, they received, one after the other, the 4 diplomas of the course:fundamental cycle, vocational cycle (kitchen assistant certification), customer service (ft. talent training) and basic informatics (ft. UTP) while applause rang around them. A group photo of all the girls, teachers and members of the foundation marked the closure of this beautiful experience.
On Wednesday, September 11, we lived a night full of emotions where 30 people were transformed into Human Stories and shared their life experiences with the more than 150 attendees to the event.
It was a night where stories and listeners opened up to new ideas and made genuine connections through conversations so diverse that each table was a completely different adventure.
That night, we celebrated being human; we celebrated being different and stripped ourselves of labels, allowing emotions to flow.
It was an unforgettable night where members of the foundation, volunteers and our Stories did their best to make our event a success.
This event was only the beginning of a new stage for the Foundation, where we are looking forward for the Tertulias to reach more people and generate lasting changes in our society.
Tertulias Humanas is an event created by Fundación Calicanto, which, through different formats, seeks to challenge stereotypes, connect people and foster a more inclusive society.
But august wasn’t just about CAPTA 51, it was also about new alliances and allies: The Club 20-30, which donated diapers for the beneficiaries’ kids, and the INAMU (or National Women’s Institute) who became our ally through an official signing ceremony held at their headquarters on the 7th.
After months of planning and redesigning, CAPTA 51 has finally started.
This time, 20 extraordinary women answered the call of this journey to help them discover and empower themselves for the next 9 weeks. Women of all ages, from 18 to 53, and from all over the city have been coming to our little classroom every day, from 9 am to 4 pm, to learn everything they possibly can from our teachers and volunteers.
Being in that room feels like a boost of energy, the will to improve and the disposition these girls have is contagious. Their struggles however, are very real, but whenever they decide to share them, their classmates are there to give them support and motivation. They relate to each other, in a way families do, and even if it’s only been a couple weeks, you can feel the friendships forming and the girls coming out of their shells.
Already, we can see some results. Girls that are usually quiet and timid are starting to voice their opinions and participate in class. New stories are emerging, of fairer family dynamics, of new ways of raising their kids, of dreams yet to be accomplished. Already, they are starting to perceive themselves in a different way : strong, capable, worthy. They’re realizing what is good for them and what is not, learning to speak up and understand their feelings, boosting their self-confidence and fostering their leadership potential.
Seeing such a transformation is a beautiful thing, and it’s all thanks to you.
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