"I want my community to see that when a woman puts her mind to something, things can change. Because life is like that; when you dedicate it to making miracles, there is no limit to the changes you can make."
Meet Yolanda, Mil Milagros' newest Community Coordinator. Yolanda was a mother leader volunteer in Cruz B before being employed by Mil Milagros. Although this is Yolanda's first job outside the home, she has embraced this new challenge and is helping to change lives in her family and community.
I grew up in Santa Lucía Utatlán, in the community of Pamezabal. Although we didn’t have everything, my childhood was happy. I am the 11th child of 12 children. Now, I am married with three children aged ten, five and three.
One day, a neighbor invited me to drink some Incaparina and she started talking about Mil Milagros. I asked her, “What is that? I’ve never heard of this organization.” She told me, “They train us on certain topics, and it is very interesting. If you want, we can go together every two weeks.” We went to the school in Pahaj and I registered my two youngest children in the Early Childhood Development program. Then, I learned about Parenting Journey and became more involved, first as a participant and then as a co-facilitator.
After being a co-facilitator for the Parenting Journey program for almost a year, I was thrilled when Mil Milagros began serving the school my children attend in Cruz B. I became a mother leader and started working more closely with the MM staff. Then, one day, Lucy, (MM In-Country Director), called and asked me if I wanted to work as a Mil Milagros Community Coordinator. It was such a surprise! I immediately said yes. MM and The Parenting Journey taught me not to depend on my husband or anyone else to make my own decisions. I had never even had a job before. I graduated from high school, but I wasn’t putting any of my education to use. Now, having this job, it’s beautiful. It’s a big step for me.
From Monday to Friday, I get up at 5:00 a.m. to prepare breakfast, snack, and lunch for my family and myself. At 7 or 7:30 a.m., depending on the activities that we have planned for the day, I leave for work. When I get home, I spend some time with my children, because I don’t see them for most of the day. We play or go for a walk. Then we have dinner and afterwards my husband and oldest son practice piano. I give the two smaller children a bath and get them ready for bed. Then we do it all again the next day!
On Saturday, I wash all of our clothes by hand, because it accumulates throughout the week. Then, at night, we have a family gathering with my in-laws, which is something that we’ve been doing for the past few years. It’s a family meeting where we talk about a bunch of topics. My family knows what I do for my work and I have taught them things that I have learned from Mil Milagros. For example, I have taught them techniques on how to manage difficult situations, or how to live a healthy lifestyle by drinking water and not eating junk food. On Sunday, we go to the market in the morning and church in the afternoon. That’s my week!
The first two weeks were the hardest. I had to learn so many new things. If I didn’t know how to do something for the first time, I wanted to learn quickly so I could get it right the next time. In the beginning, it was difficult to leave my children at home. On the way to work, I would cry in the bus because they would say, “Mommy, don’t go!” I explained to them I have to leave for work but they were so upset. Now, they are used to it and understand that this job is important to me and our family.
I’ve discovered a lot of things about myself that I didn’t know. For example, decision making. I’m not going to let my husband dictate what I do with my life. I have the right to make my own decisions. Before, I wasn’t like this. If my husband didn’t want me to do something, I agreed with him, because it was his decision. Now, because of Mil Milagros and Parenting Journey and everything I have learned and then taught him, he understands me much more and he’s not so chauvinistic. I’m more open now and I’m not afraid. We have both changed.
We need to make sure that mothers are learning how to ensure their children continue to grow and develop in a healthy environment. I want my community to see that when a woman puts her mind to something, things can change. Because life is like that; when you dedicate it to making miracles, there is no limit to the changes you can make.
Santos was born into a life of poverty and wasn't able to attend school. Now, as a Mil Milagros Mother Leader Volunteer, she shares her hopes and dreams for her own children and wants to give them opportunities she never had.