From Tears of Sadness to Tears of Joy

“I started from scratch, with nothing. Now, I’ve run my business for two years: I fulfill catering orders of up to 250 meals, I bake traditional pastries, and I cook whole turkeys. Never in my life had I thought of doing all that.  I NEVER saw myself as the entrepreneur I am today.

In her own words, Beatriz describes herself as an empowered entrepreneur who’s full of confidence. However, she never imagined she could live the way she does now. Two years ago, she was going through a divorce and she didn’t dare dream of anything. She was depressed and had no idea how to move forward.

“For years, my husband didn’t let me work. I never thought that I could own a business and live off of the profits. I only did housework and I lived entirely at his beck and call.” 

When Beatriz’s marriage ended and her husband moved out of the house in 2020, she found herself on her own with her two daughters. Unsure of her next step and in the midst of despair, Beatriz decided to take advantage of her love of cooking to generate some income.

With the holiday season approaching, Beatriz learned how to bake a turkey by watching video tutorials. She sold some personal items and used the proceeds to buy an oven and other cookware she needed to bake turkeys. Despite it being her first time, Beatriz sold 18 turkeys, earning around $700. Beatriz made more money from this one-time turkey sale than she had in her entire life. It was a huge accomplishment; however, she still felt sad and depressed.

Shortly after that, Beatriz was saying her prayers and she asked God to give her two years to find a new path in life. So, when she found out that the Women’s Empowerment Project (WEP) was a two-year program, she joined in a heartbeat, and her journey with Programa Velasco began.

Beatriz wanted to strengthen her newfound business idea, but she also joined the WEP so she could access the counseling sessions Programa Velasco offers. Many people struggle with the decision to enter counseling because it still has stigma attached to it. However, that wasn’t the case for Beatriz: she knew counseling was exactly what she needed at that time.

She says, “Counseling really helped me with my feelings. I came in very broken: my tears were full of sadness and pain. Now I cry tears of joy when I think of who I’ve become. I’m a different person. My life has changed. I’ve lifted myself up as a woman and as an entrepreneur.” Beatriz made surprising discoveries about herself through these counseling sessions as well as the WEP’s monthly personal empowerment workshops.

Beatriz’s experience speaks for itself, and we’re honored to have accompanied her on her journey of empowerment. We’ve witnessed how she’s changed and the proof isn’t just in her words, but rather in the way she carries herself now. Her story proves that when you support a woman, you make an impact on an entire family. Beatriz has a new vision that, without a doubt, she will pass on to her daughters, Andrea and Lisbeth:

“I tell my daughters that they have to work and not depend on a man. They can’t let themselves be manipulated. I want to pass on a bit of what I’ve learned. I want to teach them to be strong, independent, confident, and empowered women. In other words, the type of woman I am now.”

Two years after that quiet prayer asking God to help her find a new path, Beatriz assures us that she’s found what she was hoping for, and much more. 

“The biggest thing I realized in the WEP is that I can learn. I can show my talent. I learned that I can achieve anything I set my mind to. I’ve learned to love and value myself. I’ve learned to let go, I’m not stuck in the past anymore. I feel different now. I feel loved. My world has changed.”

Every person who supports the Women’s Empowerment Project plays an active and important role in helping people like Beatriz. The number of words in this story doesn’t hold a candle to the number of times WEP participants have to choose between giving up their progress in the WEP or forging ahead against the odds. Every year, we see how resilient the WEP participants are in the face of high-risk situations and all of us at Programa Velasco feel privileged to be part of their story.

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