On my very first trip to Honduras, the group I was with built a house in a village called Mirador. In typical mission trip fashion, most of the guys worked on the house while the girls played with children from the community. Several of their mothers gathered around to watch and I used my moderate, high school level Spanish to talk with them. There was something about these women that drew me in - their hearts, their strength, their courage. Although they were already caring for their little ones so beautifully, I knew if there was something I could do to help, I wanted to do it.
That same trip, I met Lori and Janet and learned all about Mi Esperanza. As they spoke about the benefits of education and employment, I remember a light bulb coming on for me - I realized that the American culture often thinks of helping in the form of handouts or charity, but that true help comes in the form of empowerment. By learning a job skill that she could use to become employed, a women is given a chance to take care of herself and her family. Like I said, the mothers I met were taking care of their children to the very best of their ability, but Mi Esperanza works to extend the scope of their ability much further.
I went on to intern with Mi Esperanza that summer and have spent countless hours working with the women in the maquila since then. They have become my dear friends and colleagues.
I've always been grateful for what education and employment have done for the women, but having had my own baby in March this work now means infinitely more. Although I don't have to see the effects of poverty and injustice on my daughter's life, I can only imagine the constant heartbreak that would be. The fact that any mother has to struggle to supply her child's basic needs is a symptom of the world being broken.
By educating and employing women, Mi Esperanza is fighting injustice at its core. We are giving mothers a chance to change the course of their children's lives. Employment leads to stability at home, which creates a healthy context where children can grow and, in turn, pursue their own education to continue the cycle. It's a beautiful thing and we're only just beginning to see the effects of it!