The CAPTA women at their graduation ceremony
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.
CAPTA 51's valedictorian delivers a speech
One of the graduates shares her story at Tertulias
The foundation's president and the head of INAMU