Flor leading the workshop
"What is Love?" It's February 13th (the day before Valentine's day) and Flor de María Peña (the executive director) is leading a workshop for the women about love. They all sit in chairs, some with babies, one balancing an embroidery hoop on her knee as she works diligently away, and discuss the meaning of love. Flor writes down the suggestions as they come up: love is respect, it's dignity, it's forgiveness, it's listening.
The workshop ends and the women gather around to eat lunch and chat. The MuJER office provides a refuge where they can come during the day and drink a coffee, or take a class. It's a rare safe space, tucked behind a restaurant run by a former sex worker who took classes at MuJER, and then worked her way through high school and cooking classes, a place where the women are guaranteed not to be judged for their work as sex workers.
Flor says the number of sex workers in Guatemala is estimated to be about 35,000, and many are marginalized immigrants with few resources and less hope. Through classes in English, reading, jewerly-making, and basic education, MuJER is working to support these women so that they're future can be a bit brighter. Eventually they would also like to provide computer classes, however they need a few more computers first. Flor explains that these women often feel like, as immigrants, women and sex workers, they have no rights, and should they be treated badly, no recourses. Using basic education, supportive workshops, and the opportunity to make and sell small jewelry and embroidery, Flor and her staff are hoping to be able to help these women and their families to a brighter future. Looking around the room at the cluster of women drinking coffee, or making a necklace, as their children read "Madeline" or "Corduroy", it's impossible to not to catch their enthusiasm and optimism about the future.