Women's empowerment in Honduras (Sep. 2011)
MMMs help women become empowered in Honduras.
Ethel receiving her certificate from the leader of the Conference of Religious Women, accompanied by Sister Renée Duignan, MMM (right).
Ethel came to our centre in Choloma, Casa Visitacion, proudly presenting a certificate from the Conference of Religious Women of the Diocese of San Pedro Sula. She related her life story to the group, which was conducting a seminar on the reality of life here.
Ethel came from a family of eight children. She never knew her father. When she was eight years old her mother gave her away to another family because she was very poor. She was taken care of by her new family but longed to be back with her mother and siblings. When she was eleven Ethel returned to her family, but her mother would not accept her. Deeply hurt, she went to live on the streets.
Life was tough. To survive she slept with different men, earning a little money for food. At fourteen Ethel was pregnant. She lived with her child's father, who was very abusive. She stayed with him for two years while his family raised the child.
She met another man and had three children. Two months after the birth of the last child the father of these children died of AIDS. Ethel then discovered that she, too, had AIDS. She struggled greatly as she suffered from recurrent infections. Now she is living with a man who has a drug problem. Unfortunately she has little choice and is grateful for the roof over her head. To earn a little money for the family she washes clothes for about four hours a day. For this she gets about two dollars.
Ethel said she grew up longing to be cared for and loved. She found the rejection of her mother almost unbearable. Her mother has since died and she finds it very difficult to forgive her.
Ethel came to our programme six years ago. Our staff helped her to get treatment and she joined the support group. She says this has helped her immensely. She has taken part in workshops on topics such as human rights, self-esteem, etc. Practical sessions have helped her to sell some products. The Programme also helped with funds for her children's schooling and occasional food baskets.
Most of all, she says, she has received much love and care. During the Conference she spoke highly of the programme of Casa Visitacion and the Team. She said: "I am here speaking with you to-day because I feel good about myself. I am so grateful for all I have learned and received these past six years."
Sister Cleide da Silva, from Brazil, is responsible for vocation promotion in Honduras. She has completed a formation course and has now begun to work with a youth group in Marcala. With the help of friends she has developed vocation literature in Spanish.
Cleide says, "I hope to promote MMM and our way of life and to help young people to discover their vocation whatever way of life they choose to go. Our mission is to support and awaken in young people the desire to follow Christ. I do believe this is our time and that God continues to call disciples to MMM."