When we began Footprints with Hope, we talked through a plethora of ideas for what we wanted to become our focus. Doing such a task is tremendously hard because the needs are so abundant. The displaced people suffer from lack of food, lack of clean water, lack of jobs or knowledge how to maintain one, and lack of heath care. However, in each of the villages I visited in 2019, there was one resounding concern expressed: the women were suffering and were very de-valued.
Many women have been abandoned by the man of the home. Other women have lost their man in the war. Still many other women face having children out of circumstances of rape or abuse. Many of these women have a home full of children with no way to care for their needs, at no fault of their own. As I talked with these communities, my heart began to bleed for these women. They were hurting. Each one had a story which could fill pages to share the depth of the need for these women to be acknowledged and valued.
Therein our dream was born to begin a program which would truly help these women overcome heartache, even if in very small, simple ways. The foundation facilitates several avenues of helping communities. However, our passion is to help these women create a sustainable way of life. A sustainable way of life would give these women new hope for each day. It would provide the ability not just to better their lives, but to improve the conditions for their children’s future.
The word “luchadora” means a female fighter. We choose to name our program this because each of the women who will pass through the program is a luchadora. Each one has a story of heartbreak, difficulty, and hardship. Yet somehow, they get up every day, fighting. The women fight for their children. They fight for their worth. Each of them fight for their voice to be heard and recognized. And They fight for their rights.
Often they go unheard and unnoticed. The resounding statement I heard over and over on the trip was “Thank you for coming. Thank you for listening”. I had nothing to offer these women in that timeframe. I simply acknowledged them, which moved their hearts to hanging on to more hope. The women I have met in Colombia have taught me more about life than any text book, movie, or self-help book can do. Why? Because they are the real deal. They are fighters every day, living a story we in the United States can hardly comprehend. They are luchadoras. And that is how our program came to be named.
The Luchadora Program will allow for 30 women at a time to participate in the workshops and sessions. The program will last eight (8) months. The weeks consist of teaching the women a skill trade which makes sense for their community. For example- hair styling or bead making or rug weaving. As they learn this skill, they will also be taught financial management. The women will learn from educated teachers how to balance budgets, save money, put into their “business”, and take care of their family. There is a psychologist who will be working with the women on an individual basis to help them overcome the abuse or self-esteem struggles they face.
At the end of the program, each woman will also write their story, and it will become a series of chapters which the foundation will share little by little. The truth is, every one has a story. Every person has significance. Sometimes we just need to help others know that they have worth. As the women pass through the program, it is our goal and desire that they are able to embrace their value. Telling their story lends the ability for their voice to be heard and recognized. Once the women graduate, it is our hope that they have the tools they need to create a way of sustainability for their family. As time moves along, we will do follow up with the women.
Dreams Come True
To fund such a program costs $7,000. In our first year, we faced a pandemic, which made executing the program a challenge. In part due to fundraising, and in part due to gathering restrictions. However, we are very excited to announce that we have been funded through a local church, Restoration Park Church, and we are in the stages of unrolling this program! The dream is coming true. We are looking forward to learning about the women and helping them learn their worth. Through spiritual guiding, financial learning, job skill training and psychological healing, we anticipate being able to help women, one step at a time. We are excited to meet these luchadoras and see where the next months will lead.
Executing a new program takes time, but we will update through newsletters and social media. We hope that you’ll continue following the journey and encouraging these women in their efforts to overcome a misogynistic culture. As we carry hope to Colombia one step at a time, our dreams come true, but more so, we hope that the dreams of these women will come true.