Eugenia had the misfortune of being born in a country where women in rural and mining areas live in extreme poverty and under very difficult conditions. Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in South America where some women are often viewed as having only two attributes of worthiness – giving birth and serving as a source of labor. They rarely experience the affirming joy and sense of appreciation we often associate with being wives and mothers. Instead, they are too often denied educational opportunities and suffer unspeakable recurring abuse, exploitation, and discrimination.
Accordingly, Eugenia’s life has been consumed with overwhelming challenges, one after another. Such de-humanizing challenges confronting Eugenia have included domestic violence, perpetual extreme poverty, illiteracy, and devastating burdens associated with caring for her children and a disabled family member without the most basic resources. While Eugenia has overcome these challenges throughout her life, she rises every day determined to help all of those around her. It’s difficult to understand how such a self-sacrificing woman would be denied basic human rights. She would typically suffer further humiliation resulting from episodes of domestic violence.
Eugenia’s desperate plight seemed all but impossible to overcome. She has worked tirelessly for so many years to improve her circumstances for the sole purpose of helping loved ones and improving her community. Her typical day begins at 4:00 AM to prepare her family for a new day, then working all day making only fifty cents and then returning home to serve tirelessly as her family’s primary caretaker. This cycle was repeated daily, year in and year out. As difficult as daily life has been, the fact that it was unlikely to change was even more oppressive to her inner spirit.
United4Change Center (U4C), the Rotary Foundation, several Rotary Clubs, and donors just like you, partnered to bring about meaningful, sustainable change for Eugenia. She successfully completed literacy classes where she learned to read and write. Further, she was taught how to manage access to healthcare for her family and herself, how to lead other women in changing their lives, entrepreneurialism and business management skills, and equipped with new skills and equipment to launch her own business. U4C established a women’s support center (CECAP) where women could support one another and launched a campaign targeted at domestic violence.
Eugenia dedicated herself to these programs – never missing a single class or failing to produce her assignments. She graduated in front of her family for the very first time where the entire community celebrated her achievement and that of the other women in her group. Eugenia experienced these great achievements and for the first time experienced the pride of accomplishment with the congratulations of all those near to her.
“I wanted to participate in the classes to open my heart and also to learn”-she told us. She shared with us that one of her biggest desires is to help those girls who need support, for example, disabled people like her 18-years old niece, who needs diapers and has other needs. This was a life changing experience – a completely new sense of personal value for Eugenia. The look on her face during the graduation and following celebration was evidence of this very new experience. She was irrevocably changed and she is now committed to moving forward, building upon her new skills. U4C was able to provide Eugenia with the equipment and marketing assistance to launch a viable business. Her entire village embraced Eugenia, and the other women in this effort, by purchasing her new products and affirming her as a business owner.
What it is like now…….
While many challenges remain in Eugenia’s life, she is for the very first time optimistic about her future. Your support made possible the required changes that have elevated Eugenia’s prospects for a better life. While she has always worked hard, Eugenia now works with both purpose and hope for a better life for her and her family. “I’m happy to attend and learn at CECAP…it is very beautiful. My dream is to teach others, my family, and my nieces. First I want to teach others what I’ve learned. Also, my dream is that my nieces learn how to bake and then start a small business… I want my nieces to go to University, I would like them to study….”
What is the value of a woman’s dignity as a human being? Just as Eugenia and she will tell you without hesitation. She now encourages other women to follow her path to a better life. Thanks to your support, Eugenia’s changed life is like throwing a stone into a pond with cascading circles of change around her. You made it possible for this wonderful woman to find self-worth and enhance her ability to improve the circumstances for her family.
Eugenia expresses heartfelt gratitude with her dedicated efforts and willingness to help other women. In this remote area of the world, you helped change the lives of Eugenia, her family, and other women within her influence. This was her impossible dream, which you helped make possible! Because of her desire to learn, other women in her villages got motivated and they also want to learn and participate in the Center. “I’m willing to teach them”. Today, Eugenia is able to make and sell cakes in her village, because there is nothing like that there.
“I want to share with other women that my life has been transformed by the teachers and facilitators….. She said sometimes people are not equal, some do not like to learn, but I would tell them to learn, because in my experience training transformed my life, when the teachers taught me how to do things, everything went well. The first thoughts reflected our sadness, so I want people to learn and thus reflect their joy, doing their things personally after learning. The teachers who were so good.. They made me laugh, they were always laughing and happy.” On Graduation day, U4C’s representatives, the President of Rotary San Jorge and the District Governor donated a wheelchair to Eugenia’s niece. Eugenia was selected by her classmates to speak on behalf of all the women graduates.
Thank you for your support and please continue to support this important work. Every donation allows us to continue this critical work. We cannot do this work without you!
More on U4C Stories