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Irina is 36 years old and has five children, ranging in age from 10 to 18 years, and two grandchildren. She is a single mother studying at Safe Passage and working in the garbage dump. She was interviewed by Volunteer Claudia Reuter of Germany.
Q: How did you hear about Camino Seguro/Safe Passage?
A: Seven years ago, I heard people in the street talking. They said, there is a “Gringa” knocking on people’s doors and asking to take their children. Some of them were really skeptical, however, others said that she wants to send our children to school and to give us support. It took me some years before I came to the project, which was at that time in the church in front of the garbage dump entrance. I asked for a place for my eldest daughter. She was twelve and completing her 6th grade when she entered the project. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to pay her school fees any longer. My other children came in 2003, and the little one in 2004, to the project. In the beginning I had some difficulties getting them in because we had brushed their hair and cleaned their clothes. I was always happy to talk to Hanley. When I told her about the problem to get my kids in the program, she arranged everything immediately.
Q: When did you come to Camino Seguro/Safe Passage?
A: I couldn’t help my children with their homework, who were visiting the project of Camino Seguro/Safe Passage already for 5 years, and I felt dumb. Then I heard about the “Alphabetisación” program of Camino Seguro/Safe Passage. In this program are women who learn the basic things like writing, reading and mathematics. I asked if I could attend. Two years later and I’m in my 7th Grade (1a Basico). Two times a week I visit “Alphabetisación”, helping a beginner’s class and learning. When our project CREAMOS started, in which we are making jewelry; I became the first president.
Q: In which way could Camino Seguro/Safe Passage help change your life?
A: Without Camino Seguro/Safe Passage my children couldn’t study and I wouldn’t know what I know now. I cannot – or don’t want to – imagine how my life would be without Camino Seguro/Safe Passage. Now, my children have so many opportunities for their future. My life changed completely, all our lives here did! We are almost all single mothers; our men are dead or with other women somewhere. It is necessary for many of us to know more about our rights and how we can continue our lives healthier and with a more positive direction. For me, it is like a big family. I enjoy being here to learn, the people are amazing here. Furthermore, we get these big food bags once a month, help with life skills and confidence, and medicine. With the selling of our jewelry I can earn money which helps me a lot and makes me very proud.
Q: What are your plans for your future?
A: I live every day as if it would be the last, and I’m so grateful every day that God let me study. I want to see my children grow, study, and be good, happy human beings. I’d like to have a house made of stones and help people. I want to see the United States, to walk on a street when it is snowing…