In the run up to International Women’s day 2014, we at Mision México have decided to interview three exceptional young ladies from our family. This year’s theme is ‘Inspiring change’ and these girls certainly do that! First up, Katherine. Also read Dulce and Maria’s stories
I, Clare McBrien, was lucky enough to interview Katherine in early February. Now 22, she is an intelligent, articulate, passionate young lady studying to be a doctor. She enjoys playing basketball with her dad Alan, (when they play on the same team they always win) and her favourite singer is Shakira. She studies incredibly hard and has the world at her feet! Thanks to the bravery of her mothers, (she has two) and her own determination, her life has seen a dramatic change.
Originally from El Salvador, the word she used most frequently to describe her experience there was ‘nada’ or nothing. “There was no food, no school, no house, nothing. There everyone is very poor.? Her childhood was punctuated by experiences of an abusive father, prison-like refuges, sexual harassment and immigrating to Mexico with her mother where continues to fight to get a permanent residency. She moved into Mision México after running away from home and stayed there for 5 years where she thrived.
Now living with her biological family, I asked her what it meant to be a woman in Mexico. She told me it is “a way of life; an opportunity, a blessing and a challenge.? She believes women are “brave, strong, intelligent and loving?; qualities she has seen in both her mothers – Ana, her biological mother, and Pam, her mother at Mision México. “My mothers are my inspiration; they are two completely different women, both with very hard lives. They have shown me how to overcome difficulties. They cry, and then they get up and keep going.?
Katherine and Pam in 2012
Katherine on education and faith
Katherine has had to learn this lesson quickly and has done so with remarkable tenacity. When speaking to her it quickly became clear that her life is based upon two core pillars: education and faith.
Katherine and mother Ana
Very aware of how lucky she is to live in a country where women are “free?, Katherine studies 6 days a week from 6.30 until 11am and then works is in hospital from 12pm until 10pm. “I am really happy to do it,? she told me “it is great to feel that people trust me.? She learned the value of education from her mother Pam who told her to forget about boys until she had finished school. In fact, when asked how we can inspire change for the lives of women, it is education she turns to. “Ever since I was a little girl I have seen how intelligent girls are, then I see them fall in love, fall pregnant and leave school. This has to change; they could have a life full of success. Out of all the girls in my high school year, only 5 of us are still in education!? She firmly believes that “education is the most important thing to change the lives of women?.
The second thing that comes across is her faith; faith in God and faith in herself. “Believing is everything?, she told me when I asked her what advice she had for women and girls on International Women’s Day. “You have to have dreams, you have to follow your dreams, and you have to have faith in yourself. Life isn’t easy, there will always be difficult times, but if you believe you can do it then you will.?
Katherine is a young woman that encompasses this year’s International Women’s Day theme. She has overcome great difficulty and experienced profound change in her life thanks to two very special mentors, her own self belief, and education. Three things that we need to insure all young girls have access to if they are to change the world.
Katherine and friend Adrian at medical school