Fight Poverty: Educate Women in Panama

by Fundacion Calicanto

We conduct these interviews with our graduates to understand what motivates them to join CAPTA and also to provide basic insight into the mindsets of the women we train. This is Ana's interview, she recently graduated and has been able to cash in her first check which will contribute to her daughter's education back home. 

What is your name?

Ana

How old are you?

I am 47 years old

Are you single or married?

I am legally married, but at the moment we are separated.

Do you have children?

Yes, I have a daughter who is 8. She lives far away from me with her grandparents and I miss her very much.

Have you finished high school?

No, I couldn’t finish high school. I reached 11th grade.

What did you do before the program?

Before the program, I used to work as a housemaid.

When you heard about CAPTA, what did you like about it?

What I really liked about CAPTA is that the program offers the opportunity to learn important skills that could help me land a stable job.

Why do you think you need this program?

The reason I think I need this program is for personal development, as a mother I want to provide for my daughter and I want to give her a better life.

What did you feel when you were accepted into the program?

I felt the desire to improve I knew this program would be for my benefit.

What would you like to change about your life?

I think that I would prefer to have a better quality of life.

What are your goals after you finish the program?

For me it’s a must to always keep learning and growing. I would like a stable job, improve my quality of life, own my home so that I can bring my daughter to live with me and provide for her.

What change would you like to see in the world?

I’d like to see equal opportunities for children. Learning and studying are basic things that all children should have, just like food and water.

What have you learned recently that you would have liked to know when you were a young girl?

I guess I didn’t know how important school was; if I knew better, I would have finished high school.

Anything funny about your personality?

The way I communicate, always with joy even if I am tired.

What does luxury mean to you?

Luxury means being able to afford a comfortable life style. Having my own home and car to move around, having my bills up to date. 

What would you tell a woman who could help you by buying something luxurious?

I would tell her how grateful I feel for the help she’s provided me and other women in need.

Would you like to receive some advice from these women? What would you ask?

Yes, of course I would. I would ask her for advice on what can I do to have the same opportunities she has. 

What advice could you give to a younger woman?

A good advice for a younger woman is to study, so that she does not regret it later.

How did this program change your life? Has there been a change in your life after the program?

The program helped me to improve as a person. Now I can solve conflicts and express myself without aggression.  My life changed because they gave me the key to change things in my life. For example, now I have a stable job and I am about to cash my first paycheck. I will send that money to my mother to help pay my daughter’s education back home.

Ana in the International Hotel School
Ana in the International Hotel School
Theater helps the women understand their emotions
Theater helps the women understand their emotions
Kimmy on the first day, with a child-like look
Kimmy on the first day, with a child-like look

When Kimmy arrived to Fundacion Calicanto we saw a young 18 year old girl with an introverted personality, monotonous speech, low self-esteem and if she ever answered a question, it was usually a shy and awkward yes or no answer with her head tilted toward the floor, avoiding eye contact at all costs.

The first week of CAPTA, Kimmy had difficulty communicating with the other women in the classroom; she had a child-like attitude and cried every time a teacher insisted on her participation.  She had not finished high school; she only made it to 9th grade due to learning difficulties and because her mother couldn’t afford to send her to school any longer. By the time she entered CAPTA, she was financially dependant of her mother, and so was her younger sister.

On the third week of the course, positive changes in Kimmy started to show through the interventions of the psychologists and teachers. In the Computer Literacy course, she impressed the teacher with her high abilities to use the computer and finishing first in all of the assignments; and due to her dexterity in this class, the teacher asked her to help the other women in their work. This sparked a new attitude in Kimmy, for the first time in her life she felt she was good at something, and she spread this new feeling of self-satisfaction and self-confidence in the other courses. She began to express herself with her classmates and everyone who works at Fundacion Calicanto. Her personal appearance changed; she would come with impeccable hair, dress and make up. She started to be more outspoken, and would even volunteer for small tasks that would involve having to ask for things or talk to someone else.

During the practice at the International Hotel School, she excelled and received a recommendation letter and a diploma for her high performance. Kimmy was chosen by her classmates to be their spokeswoman in the graduation ceremony and received a Perseverance Award.  A few days after graduation she passed by Fundacion Calicanto for an update, she said she couldn’t wait to start her new job and continue her path towards personal success.

Standing by herself during yoga class (far left)
Standing by herself during yoga class (far left)
In her practice at the Intl. Hotel School (middle)
In her practice at the Intl. Hotel School (middle)
Giving her testimony as the group
Giving her testimony as the group's spokeswoman
Her face in the graduation invitation
Her face in the graduation invitation

What is your name?

My name is Marlene 

 

How old are you?

I am 19 years old

 

Are you single or married?

Single

 

Do you have children?

Yes, I have a 2-year-old daughter

 

Have you finished high school?

I’m studying right now. Trying to finish.

 

What did you do before the program?

Before the program, I was working in a company that manufactures and selects buttons for clothing.

 

When you heard about CAPTA, what did you like about it?

A neighbor and friend of mine told me about a program that would teach me how to find a job and how to change my life in a positive way.  Hearing this was very exciting for me and I told my relatives that I wanted to join the program, not just because it would help me find a job but also because I wanted to learn! I wanted the opportunity to keep learning and make my dreams come true.

 

Why do you think you need this program?

To improve as a person and change my life, I want to be better and have more stability.  I feel like this program will help me.

 

What did you feel when you were accepted into the program?

I felt happy and I got really emotional, I even started crying because I was full of joy.

 

What would you like to change about your life?

I would like to change the way I am and be able to communicate more with my family and to hold a fluent conversation and not end up arguing with them. I would like to understand them without fighting.

 

What are your goals after you finish the program?

My personal goals are to find a job, finish building my home and finish my nursing degree, that’s the dream I’m following.

 

What change would you like to see in the world?

Respect, value and no discrimination for women. That would a good change.

 

What have you learned recently that you would have liked to know when you were a young girl?

I wish I had a mentor who constantly encouraged and supported me to keep studying and working to get my college degree to find a worthy job.

 

Anything funny about your personality?

When I first meet someone I’m usually very serious but once I start to trust I’m all laughs.

 

What does luxury mean to you?

Luxury to me is having a full make up kit.

 

What would you tell a woman who could help you by buying something luxurious?

I would thank her because with her donation she is helping women who don’t have the resources to continue studying.

 

Would you like to receive some advice from these women? What would you ask?

Yes, I would like to ask her what she did in her life to get to where she is.  How did she overcome all the obstacles to reach her goals without giving up ?

 

What advice could you give to a younger woman?

To continue studying and finish their college careers. Don’t give up despite the obstacles in the way, because with effort we can go further.

 

How did this program change your life? Has there been a change in your life after the program?

The program helped me understand that anything in life is easy as long as we fight for what we want. I learned to have a good attitude, to be positive in everything I do and to believe in myself.  I feel more confident and now I know how to act when I am in a difficult situation. I learned to say things at the right time without offending or hurting others and I dialogue more with my family.

Marlene and her beautiful daughter
Marlene and her beautiful daughter

Links:

I AM CAPTA
I AM CAPTA

GENIS is 40 years old; she spent her early life in the province of Darien, with her parents and siblings. Despite her family’s limited resources, she was able to finish the eighth grade.

Twenty-two years ago, she moved to a poor, violent community in Panama City called Curundu, where she had to make many sacrifices as a single mother to feed her 5 children.

Genis learned about Fundacion Calicanto from a friend who had recently graduated from the CAPTA training program. As soon as she heard that the training would help her gain the tools she needed to be a successful woman, she decided to sign up for the training.

She stood out in the classroom because she is one of the few women from this neighborhood who has not been influenced by drugs or gangs; instead, she has learned to survive and learned from her experiences. Genis was one of the best students in the course; her goals included working in a hotel and own a descent home for herself and her family.

She left behind all her fears and insecurities and now works at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Panama. She started cleaning the public areas in the hotel and due to her initiative and excellent working habits, she’s moved up to housekeeping.  Genis is an example of a woman who decided to change for herself and her family; thanks to the CAPTA course, her dreams came true.

Spanish Version

GENIS es una mujer de 40 años de edad que vivió sus primeros años de vida en la Provincia del Darién, junto a sus padres y sus hermanos. A pesar de los recursos limitados de su familia, con mucho esfuerzo pudo llegar hasta tercer año.

Hace 22 años se mudó a una comunidad de riesgo en la Cuidad de Panamá llamada Curundú donde inicialmente tuvo que hacer muchos sacrificios para mantener a sus 5 hijos sola.

Genis fue referida a Fundación Calicanto por una estudiante egresada del programa de Capacitación para el Trabajo (CAPTA) y desde que conoció el programa, tomó la oportunidad de capacitarse. Caracterizándose porque a pesar de su historia de vida, nunca fue víctima de las drogas, ni de las pandillas de su barrio, sino que aprovechó cada una de sus experiencias para aprender. Genis fue una de las mejores estudiantes del curso, sus metas incluían trabajar en un hotel y adquirir una casa digna para su familia.

Dejó atrás todos sus temores e inseguridades y hoy en día trabaja en el Hotel Waldorf Astoria Panamá. Empezó en el área de limpieza de áreas públicas y gracias a su pro actividad y desempeño ahora está como ama de llaves. Genis representa una mujer que tomó la decisión de cambiar su vida y la de su familia; gracias a CAPTA su sueño se hizo realidad.

Genis at the Waldorf Astoria
Genis at the Waldorf Astoria

We are proud to share with you the latest news about Fundacion Calicanto's CAPTA program. After a long application process, CAPTA was chosen the regional winner for the Financial Times/Citi Urban Ingenuity Award. The award celebrates innovative projects that bring solutions to the world's most pressing urban challenges through education and other development efforts. CAPTA was chosen for its contribution to education, training Panama's poorest women through a psychological and vocational course that opens employment opportunities for single mothers. 

The Financial Times article that positioned CAPTA among top contenders, featured the program through the eyes of Luzkeira, a former gang leader who got her life back because of the CAPTA program. Luzkeira was forced by her parents to deal drugs at the age of 10; she went to prison for the first time when she was 13 and was arrested two more times since then on other serious charges. Luzkeira lives in a dangerous part of Panama City and has witnessed the death of close family members due to rival gang violence. To support her daughter and her nephew, she sells stuffed bread and coffee every night to nearby construction workers.

Luzkeira was recruited into the program by the social worker that gave her an informational sheet on the street. CAPTA offered her formal training and taught her skills that she can now use not only to find employment, but also to live responsibly away from violence and gangs.

Read more about Luzkeira using the links attached. Her marvelous turn around is proof that if we all work together as we have been, we can save women from violence and instability.

We are grateful for all of your kind donations, this prize belongs to you too; you have all contributed to rescuing nearly 600 Panamanian women.

Thank you and congratulations to you all!


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Organization Information

Fundacion Calicanto

Location: Panama City, Panama - Panama
Website: http:/​/​www.fundacioncalicanto.org
Project Leader:
Hildegard Vasquez
Panama, Panama

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