3rd and 4th groups receiving high school diplomas
First of all, THANK YOU for your donations and on-going support for The Las Claras Program. Your actions have been key in establishing the program and getting settled in our two homes within the communities of Felipillo & Santa Ana.
In December we were proud to graduate our fourth group of teenage mothers who, after 18 months, successfully got to the finish line of our program. “Months ago, with a cluster of fears under our arms, we arrived at the Las Claras Program, with curious looks we observed every corner of this Center [...] but fortunately now we understand that only study and perseverance are the key to open the doors of tomorrow. I only want to tell the girls of the next generations, that we are our own destiny. Only we should ask ourselves what we want to make of our lives, and continue each day without stopping to fight and set goals for ourselves.”, stated Esmeralda Saavedra, in her speech as class valedictorian.
Currently, our groups in the Felipillo and Santa Ana communities have also continued to receive a variety of workshops and classes, on top of the fixed syllabus. We ended the year with smiles and hugs, preparing for a 2019 full of challenges and goals to accomplish.
Starting the year, we celebrated the first encounter between graduates from the Las Claras Program. Amongst many laughs, anecdotes and new stories to tell, we introduced the girls to new staff, as well as a big new initiative focused on them: with the intention of continuing their learning and personal progress, this new phase would allow them to meet with selected staff in order to continue therapy sessions and support group sessions, so that they get a space to talk about obstacles they currently face at the work place or in their process of job search. At the same time, added to this therapeutic aspect, we are working on coordinating different workshops in which they will be learning more about Excel, English Language, Etiquette and Protocol, Projection and Self-esteem, Security in Social Networks, and Personal Finance.
We have created this initiative as a safe and voluntary space for our graduates, which they can rely on to develop and reinforce knowledge while at the same time giving feedback and reccommendations so that it evolves alonside them.
As you can see, we´ve come a long way during these past months. The teen mothers at the Las Claras Program have received care, education, and continuous support which allows them to find empowerment previously unknown to them. Furthermore, our own statistics keep showing us the powerful effect of our program within their lives even after graduation: none of our student graduates have gone through a second case of early pregnancy (highly common amongst this vulnerable population), almost all of our graduates have stable, and above minimum wage employment, all of our graduates are empowered to believe in their own potential to achieve goals and dreams. By graduating two classes per year since 2017, we’re working nonstop and giving our 1000% to break with poverty and teen pregnancy cycles amongst vulnerable areas in Panama.
Still, the reality in our country is one that requires further action: only during 2017, there were 9,086 registered cases of teen and child pregnancy, meaning that around 30% of total pregnancies in our country belong to a child or teen mom. A number that doesn’t include cases from Social Security Fund, and private clinics. Furthermore, this number keeps on increasing every year, as every teen mom will most likely have a second child during the next 24 months. Worst of all, 75% of these girls will abandon schools. They will lack a plan for the future, self-esteem and confidence to pursue their dreams, a job to support themselves and their babies, and will add numbers to the cycle of poverty that pervades their environment.
Once more, we THANK YOU for your continuous support in this quest for a better quality of life for teen mothers and their children. PLEASE keep donating and invite others to join us in this quest with their donation!
More action still to come. Stay tuned :)
our graduates listen and exchange memories
our graduates were thrilled to meet everyone again
graduates at the encounter!