BACKGROUND: In 2021, the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, began a special grant initiative entitled “Sisters Supporting Women for a Better World”. Because women are at the heart of their communities, the demands that they face are many as are the challenges they encounter. For women living in economic poverty, the resources they need to succeed are often beyond their reach. These include education, economic opportunity, personal safety, health care and social services. Our educational ministries were asked to consider how they could make a difference in lives of women and in their communities. Projects were requested from student teams in the United States and Mexico with assistance from a faculty mentor in this new initiative. In Peru, projects were requested from areas served by Sisters.
Tag: CCVI Grant
May 2, 2023, Sr. Eileen O’Keeffe, CCVI and several Incarnate Word Academy students boarded the Red Knight Express to deliver many boxes of personal care and other needed items to the women in residence at Queen of Peace Center, a Catholic Charities program for women in treatment for substance abuse. In addition to these items, students from IWA’s Mission Committee wrote personal notes to the residents. This project was sponsored by Sisters Supporting Women for a Better World, a CCVI initiative that provides funding for projects that serve economically poor women.
The Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word is committed to having a heart for God and living a life for others. Our CCVI educational ministries at the secondary and university levels in Mexico and the United Staes were invited to submit grant applications for our second year initiative to provide funding to develop and implement a project by students at our educational ministries to serve economically poor women. The projects were asked to incorporate the provision of direct services for women or advocating for policy change on an issue that directly impacts women. In Peru, we asked that a project involve a CCVI Sister residing in Peru.
This project involved empowering women who have suffered domestic violence in an area in the northern part of Peru. This area is a desert landscape that has been devastated by earthquakes, extreme poverty and the pandemic with scarcity of all needed resources. Ten different workshops for adult and adolescent women were provided to help build self-esteem and resilience for these women and their families. Fifteen women attended the workshops, all between 25 and 53 years of age, all with a partner and children, and all who have only primary education. Challenges during the project included distance from the workshop location and lack of resources for the families of the women attending. The team resolved these challenges by leaving their homes earlier to arrive on time and providing an educator with activities for the children during their mothers’ training. An initial distrust by the women was, over time, managed to create bonds of friendship. The women who came to the workshops every week met with enthusiasm and commitment to their learning, and they remain bearers of the message to other women of the community.
Submitted with the goal to improve the lives of women suffering from family violence and abuse and very low self-esteem, this project provides training for these women to help them locate jobs and to grow self-confidence. Lack of sufficient skill training in the area was identified as important to the growth of the women in this population. Collaborating with INMIRA (Instituto de las Mujeres Irapuatenses), trainers were engaged to provide classes in nail and eyebrow cosmetology, as well as autonomy and self-assessment workshops called “You Need You”. Supplies were purchased and advertising was done about the classes. The course has been aimed at ten women who have experienced a situation of violence with the intention of providing them with personal and work tools for the development of a trade. Topics of discussion and education include non-violence against women, distributive equality and economic autonomy, glass ceiling, gender roles, care economy, rights for women, and respect for their integrity. The second part of the project focuses on a life free of violence, the exercise of sexual and reproductive rights and the autonomy of decisions. A challenge was to find candidates to participate in the courses because of the issue of violence within the families and discretion in handling the issues by the victims, but with the assistance of INMIRA, this was overcome. The courses took place in a space provided by INMIRA, and the hope is that these women will grow in their self-esteem and their independence.
This project connects the local parish in Escalerillas, Mexico, with the indigenous community and is aimed at building self-esteem for the underserved, very poor women, teaching them the Spanish language and culture. The student team from Instituto Hispano Ingles worked with the Parish Priest to share meals and to teach nutrition to the women parishioners. 22 women attended the sessions from an age range of 19-62 years, all of whom are housewives with children. A basic Spanish course was provided for the women, and the cooking and baking courses began in late April due to a lack of available supplies. Grant monies were utilized to buy pots and pans, cooking and baking supplies. After some initial hesitation on the part of the parishioners because the sessions are free, “A Flower for You” has been successful in providing education for the indigenous women of this community.
Addressing the nutritional needs of vulnerable women suffering from aggression, this project is aimed at providing a shelter where women and their children can receive education on healthy meals for themselves and their families. The student team from Incarnate Word Center has written a manual on nutrition and has collaborated with the Iris Foundation in developing a workshop which began on June 14, 2022, and will run until August, 2022. Recipes for canned food were prepared at the University and team meetings were held to coordinate the logistics of the workshop. Fourteen women who are victims of abuse and low income are registered and will attend the workshop in Chimalhuacan, one of the most populous municipalities in Mexico with a high unemployment rate. The possibility of the women to generate sales in the future due to the nutritional learning they are receiving will be very positive. A video of the courses will be produced and left with the Iris Foundation for future use. A difficulty that has been encountered is traveling from the University to this area of the workshop, 90 miles away, and safety has been a question because of violence. The team has received travel assistance from the husband of one of the teachers of the course to ensure that safety is maintained.
Providing a space to learn for women with unplanned, unwanted pregnancies, this project by the America Institute team focused on providing skills for these underserved women. The women received training in practical skills to lead to job opportunities for them. Required tools and kits important to their new trade were provided. The team collaborated with VIFAC, a non-profit organization working with pregnant women in Mexico. Twelve women were enrolled in the program, all of whom were pregnant, without work or family support. Training was provided for the women to provide nail services for those in their communities. Once a customer base was established for them, the women are doing well with this new skill.
“Social Intervention Project to Contribute to eradication of Pregnancy in young girls and reduction in teenagers through education” – Cervantes Saavedra School
Students from the Cervantes Saavedra School in Mexico interacted with junior and high school female students with a high risk of unplanned or undesired pregnancies. Parents were involved in this educational process to learn the realities of an unwanted pregnancy. Working with the area’s Health Jurisdiction, talk workshops were held on sex education for students in primary and secondary schools in the Xoteapan community. Supplies were purchased to donate to the young women. While it was initially difficult to break through on the subject of pregnancy, baskets with needed items were delivered to 12 young women about to give birth, and a change in attitude was noticed. Work continues with the physicians in San Andres who attend to the group of pregnant young women to know their needs. A small business was started by some students to help with support.
This project incorporates five different segments to increase self-esteem for the poor, underserved women of the community. The students worked with the local parish and priest in García, Nuevo León in providing educational workshops on family roles, living with spouses, economic viability, and providing examples of successful women role models. A campaign on health was included focusing on nutrition, dental and first aid needs. The community served is very vulnerable to poverty and poor living conditions. The workshops were offered to the women of the parish of San Juan Pablo Segundo from January to June, 2022, on Saturday mornings at the parish school. Women from 16-80 years old with a maximum of 50 participants attended. Workshops focused on: “Woman, You are a Person”; “The Woman in the Family”; “Woman, to God you are Valuable”, with segments on self, dignity and emotions, communications in the family environment, married life, economy, women in church history, women’s rights and health, and “I am, I can – road to success”. During early June, special sessions on health including first aid and physical health took place, and graduation with awards occurred on June 4, 2022. The women were very appreciative of the classes provided to them.