CAPTA Women dramatizing their journey
A CAPTA student stood on a stage and used the words CAPTA and Calicanto interchangeably.
The evening began with much planning here at Calicanto. At 3, under a cloudy sky and following a countdown on our social media that had our followers on the edge of their seats, our most recent cycle of CAPTA women finally graduated.
And what a graduation it was!
Miss Panama Irene Nuñez was our Master of Ceremony and with a clear and elegant voice, she presented a fantastic group of speakers.
Our dear Hildegard Vasquez reminded the girls that, in a modern world, they cannot be Cinderellas who wait for princes to save them, but instead must be the heroes of their own story.
The director of Panama International Hotel School, Roberto Jean-Francois, gave the students and all the women in the world the title of “CAPTAlized women.” He reminded the audience to always remember the importance of the International Day of the Woman.
Tamara McPherson, director of Asociación Judio Panameña, our old friends and collaborators, expressed the great inspiration that our CAPTA women are and gifted a scholarship in order to change a life during our next cycle.
Similarly, Clínica Ford and American English Overseas Center also presented scholarships for “the perfect smile” and for tutoring in English.
But the moment the auditorium at the Museum of the Interoceanic Panama Canal was quietest was when Elena took the stage.
Mere moments after having graduated along with her CAPTA sisters, she explained to us that, when she arrived at the program, she felt there was no hope for her or her children.
She described CAPTA as a cocoon where she, the caterpillar, had transformed herself into a butterfly that was ready to be seen and to explore her new world.
With a strong voice that still broke at times, she let us know that the program changes lives and that, in only seven weeks, she leaves us a new person.
But the most interesting part was her interchangeable use of the words CAPTA and Calicanto. She switched back and forth as if both had the same meaning.
While to most, it might have seemed simply a mistake, Elena was correct.
CAPTA, Esperanza, and Enlaces (Fight Poverty: Educate Women in Panama, From Street Gang to Service Industry in Panama, and At Risk Children Dance for Social Change) might be three separate programs with three different approaches, but they are all synonyms for Calicanto simply because they have the same mission: to light a candle (as Hildegard Vasquez did with our graduates yesterday) in the darkest corners of Panamanian society, even when the day is as cloudy as it was.
The architect said it, the speakers reiterated it, and the girls showed it through their dramatic renditions: the CAPTA woman represents new light and new opportunities. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be new challenges, but that there is potential for a good future for both them and their families.
Elena speaking to the audience
CAPTA woman receives her diploma