Women of Courage and Faith

Women of Courage and Faith

By Sr. Maria Jose da Silva, MMM

During the last year, 2022, MMM in Salvador, Brazil, through the support of our donors overseas and with the local support of our lay people in the Pastoral Centre, was able to help about 100 women between the ages of 14-50 years old. These women come from our local parish and were referred to us by some of the local leaders.

We have tried to work with the most vulnerable and those in great need. We set up a dress-making course – among the group, there are some people who learn quickly, and they are very pleased when they are able to sew a dress or a skirt for themselves. One of these women caught my attention. She is Gloria Pereira dos Santos, 68 years old, and is a mother of two children; her daughter is a lawyer and her son is an engineer. Gloria herself is a social worker. When she was young, she had this dream and ambition to study and get her Bachelor as a Social Worker, as she wanted to work in this field, which she did for some time. Now she has retired from her work.

Gloria was married, but her husband became sick and died. She was a young widow and took on the responsibilty of educating her children. The neighbourhood where she lived her whole life is a place which is characterised by violence and drugs. She shared with me that one of her strong beliefs was to support her children to study and become professionals so that they could sustain themselves. She is very proud of herself because her children are all working and can now take on responsibility too. She is one of many women who take their lives seriously and fight for their values. It is encouraging to interact with someone very positive towards life and her environment. She really loves her neighbourhood and the friendship she established with others around where she lives has led to a positive engagement with others.

I was touched by her contagious energy of joy, because she learned how to sew and made a few dresses for herself, but I also noticed that her self-esteem increased and her interactions encouraged others to become more positive and work on their self-esteem. By sharing her story, she helps empower other women in the group and help them become natural leaders. This is the secret of empowerment that we offer in our ministries with the people. We are deeply grateful to our donors who have their mission connected with MMM in our different countries.

I asked her if her story could be shared so as to inspire other women, she accepted and was happy to share her positive message – and her dress-making skills!