Our history begins before we are born. We are marked by various factors that happen during gestation, as well as our genotype. Our adventure begins when we are conceived, and from there, we begin to establish who we will be in the future.
Thinking about our history is not an easy task. While some events may have been forgotten, others have such a strong impact that they leave scars–from time to time we may even unconsciously re-experience these events, causing bodily, cognitive or emotional discomfort.
Probably you, dear reader, have had the opportunity to listen to those stories that your grandparents or parents tell about their past and with their stories, you can imagine what their childhood, adolescence or adult life was like. Sometimes, they share the same story repeatedly because to remember is to live again. Whether its reliving a beautiful moment or recalling the loss of a loved one, its about remembering pivotal moments in which their lives completely changed.
In recognizing the importance of the past, the staff incorporates techniques during the personal empowerment workshops of the Women’s Empowerment Project, which help the entrepreneurs realize how resilient they have been throughout their lives. They begin to understand that they are strong women who have faced a myriad of situations, which have made them who they are today.
In the workshop, they learn about the Japanese practice called Kintsugi, the art of making the fragile beautiful and strong. Kintsugi teaches one to “convert the wounds of the past into learning” and that despite the pain experienced, human beings have the ability to recover and becomes a “warrior of the road.” Behind each scar is a story, where recognition and forgiveness are important.
Similarly, participants in Tepecoyo engaged in activities, called “the river of life” and “the broken plate.” During these activities, they were able to travel through the different stages of their lives, where they experienced joy, sorrow, failure, loss, disappointment and more–everything that makes us human.
The entrepreneurs had the opportunity of sharing personal stories, particularly traumatic life events. Afterwards, they were able to dissect how the event played out and how it impacted them. It’s difficult to understand why something happens in the moment; for example, it’s difficult to understand why a mother would flee to the United States leaving her children in the care of a family member.
Situations like this commonly generate the fear of abandonment. Thus, it is necessary to identify the specific circumstance that generated pain (recognition) and in order to free themselves, one must learn to forgive. One of the entrepreneurs expressed how she lived through this process, and how she can now live with her father despite the wounds he caused when he left home.
Most of entrepreneurs were raised in impoverished households, which led to some of them assuming a parental role within their families. As a result, some of them were deprived of their rights as a woman as well as their ability to follow their dreams.
During the session, an entrepreneur stated how “The workshops have helped me realize that I have rights and I am passing them onto my children. Every time I come home after a workshop, my daughter always asks me what they taught me and I show her so that she also learns and knows that she has the same rights as her brother, something that I came here to discover.” This entrepreneur has changed not only her life story, but now she’s also changing that of her children.
This is precisely what Programa Velasco seeks with the training processes it provides through its projects–to have a positive impact on the lives of the participants and their families. The training processes seek to create awareness, develop skills, mold attitudes and behaviors, and make generational impact: these entrepreneurs are empowered women.
All of our participants’ stories deserve to be heard. Thank you to those who support the WEP. Because of you, our women entrepreneurs have the opportunity to follow their passions, perhaps for the first time in their lives.