When VAMOS! first began in Cuernavaca in 1987 we met with the street sellers who work long hours every day and who scrape by with the little money that they earn whenever they might sell one of their crafts to a tourist. Some were men but the majority were women. We asked them how could we help and their answer was, “Will you help us feed and teach our children?” Which of course – with your help – we did. And as we started to provide meals and lessons, the mothers would also come by to learn. The same pattern emerged when we started working with the desperately poor colonias which surround the city of Cuernavaca. Mothers and women would gather around our projects and they would join in, helping us to cook and to teach and also joining in the meals and classes! So as VAMOS! grew we soon began to provide these services to mothers and women as well. We also hired these women. Today VAMOS! has a staff of 74 people providing services in our community centers and we are proud to tell you that 69 of them are women – including our doctor, our dentist, our psychologist and our accountant! All of them local women, and most of them trained and developed by VAMOS! And as mothers continued to ask for more programming for their children, they also asked for more opportunities for themselves. VAMOS! has provided training and workshops for women in the areas of nutrition, parenting, gynecology, occupational therapy, small business start-ups, pediatrics and domestic violence, self defense, shoe making, electricity basics, drug and alcohol abuse and self esteem.
Our work with women continues to expand. We now have computer classes for women and we are hoping to expand our women’s programming to include more small business development. Women make up half the world’s population and yet represent a staggering 70% of the world’s poor. Experts tell us that the solution to ending poverty lies in educating females and bringing them into the formal workforce. VAMOS! is doing this and you are making it possible! Our job training has help to lift 74 families out of poverty and into a more stable life. The women who work for VAMOS! receive all the social security and government benefits allowed by the law. Their children now are going on to university and coming back to volunteer with VAMOS! When VAMOS! first began in 1987 we had no idea that it would grow to provide these kind of eye opening and life changing experiences for so many. Thanks to all who have made this possible.