By Moraya Cortez
Special to the LOGOS
Being part of an experience that not only alters one’s perspective of the world, but also impacts the lives of more than 100 individuals is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Yet for the members of the Women’s Global Connection – a ministry of the San Antonio-based Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word — it is not only a recurring adventure, it is their mission.
On Feb. 18, five women — Tere Dresner-Salinas, Lisa Uribe, Ada Gonzalez, Esther Belz and Moraya Cortez — were commissioned by the Sisters of the Incarnate Word to go to Chimbote, Peru, and complete their mission of building a social network where women can strengthen their capacity to create a more just global community.
Over the course of two weeks, they experienced the richness of another culture, saw the needs of the people, and were inspired by the good works of the community to help each other.
In order to provide sustainable and owned change, the WGC partnered with the local community and organizations such as La Casa de la Mujer and the Sembrando Infancia program sponsored by CHRISTUS Health to provide workshops on business, entrepreneurship, marketing, and early childhood development. The women also toured Chimbote and Cambio Puente to better understand the scope of need and witness the good works of parish leaders Father Jack Davis, Sister Peggy Byrne and Sister Juanita Albracht.
“It was a grounding experience,” said Cortez, who is working on her master’s degree in adult education at the University of the Incarnate Word. “Everyone focuses on the poverty and need, but these people were strong, smart, and most of all, loving, and every moment was beautiful.”
The WGC representatives met many motivated and inspiring women. Mirtha, a preschool teacher and member of the Leadership School of La Casa de la Mujer in Chimbote, makes souvenirs from shells and fish skin. Marilu, a volunteer child advocate, gathers mothers in the village to teach them about nutrition and child needs, such as the benefits of breastfeeding.
The five women were most impressed with the resilience and initiative they observed.
“It reinforces the notion that women will do what it takes to care for their families, even selling frozen homemade fruit bars out of their front doors to passers-by,” said Gonzalez, a doctoral student who is interning with the WGC.
E-mail Cortez, who is working on a master’s in adult education at the University of the Incarnate Word, at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Women’s Global Commission is planning its next immersion trip to Africa and will be returning to Peru later this year.
The WGC was created through a partnership and sponsorship of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and the University of the Incarnate Word.
Its mission is to promote the learning and leadership capacity of women within the local and global community, especially those in less-advantaged areas. The WGC continues to be a catalyst of positive change not only in the San Antonio community, but in Zambia, Tanzania, and Peru.
For more information or to learn how to be a part of their mission, visit http://womensglobalconnection.org