Lack of words
An experience so profound can leave one with a lack of words. I felt speechless when I was in Colombia just a week ago. We were fortunate to launch the Luchadora program (or Red de Mujeres en Acción) and I was able to be with the women during this time. Thirty women attend the program, and they all have a unique story. I felt very humbled to be a part of this and to have the opportunity to spend time talking with them.
A little Background
The program became a dream in 2019, where the vision was born to help women overcome abuse and poverty. I have a heart for women in a deep way because often times my own story has had its challenges and, while different, I felt connected to this cause from the beginning of the seed being planted.
We had the dream to help women learn their rights, overcome abuse, work through self-esteem obstacles, and learn a skill trade to build a sustainable future. The desire is to help these women move forward, embracing who they are, helping their children learn the same, and perhaps friends who are not a part of the program. Little did I know the impact it would have on me.
Each woman fills out a survey before beginning the program. The survey asks questions in relation to income for each home; how many people live in the home and how many families. We ask questions in a yes/no/sometimes/always way which include, but isn’t limited to, if they have experienced abuse, if they argue with their partner, and if they are controlled by their partner. We collected the answers and have compiled the data. When the program ends, we will do this same survey to see how or if answers have changed.
The truth is, due to the teachings of the culture, many of the women don’t understand that what they face is abusive. They have little knowledge of their rights as females. That is the first phase of the program. We are focusing on teaching them their rights. In the above image in the heading, you see an example of an activity the women did. They created a poster about of one of the laws which give them rights as women in Colombia. However, the majority of them did not know this law existed until the program educated them about it.
With the activity, they are able to bond with the other women, creating a presentation to share what they learn, and how they can apply this law/right to their own lives. I was humbled and amazed as I listened to them all share that they did not know they had these resources and rights available to them.
This phase also focuses heavily on self-esteem building. Coming from abused and poverty-stricken situations, these women struggle to believe in themselves. I think all of us struggle with that, but imagine being in a home where your money is controlled by another person, you are not appreciated, and there is little to no encouragment in tasks with the children or daily home duties. These women need to learn how to believe in themselves.
We had a couple different activities to help them embrace this. Pictured below you can see where they are holding mirrors. In this activity, they reflected and journaled about not just what they see when looking in the mirror, but about what another may see in them when looking at them. The concept is to begin looking deeper than just the surface of beauty. Besides, many abused women cannot find positive characteristics when looking in a mirror. Thus, this one pushed them to think a little deeper and differently.
Phase two will include more self-esteems workshops, learning a skill trade along with financial management. This one will take a little more time, thus the duration of the program is eight months. We are really looking forward to watching the women continue to grow and learn. In the latter half of the program, they will also write their story. For years to come, we can learn from their difficult journeys.
Luchadoras en Acción
This is the heart of what we do, but we do it with your help. You are creating Luchadoras in action! We are very excited to see how the program keeps unfolding in the next months, and how these women will grow. The women asked me to communicate their gratitude to you. While you have never met them, the women repeatedly asked me to communicate Thank-you to all who helped make this possible. They are honored that you donated to the program to make it possible. They feel happy that you pray for them, and take time to let each of them know that they matter.
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