ESPERA Program and Immigration: Questions and Answers

In the past several months, discussions about immigration have moved to the center of public attention in the U.S. and abroad. It concerns us that some of these discussions are divisive and abrasive. The plight of immigrants stirs our hearts, as Mary’s Pence has built strong bonds with grantee and ESPERA partners affected by the issue. We know that women who are part of ESPERA are grappling with complex situations. Helping them sustain their businesses is not just about growing their income – it’s about holistic support.

The Mary’s Pence ESPERA program very intentionally works with organized women’s groups, strengthening their bonds, and amplifying their voices and impact in their communities. Their challenges have been our challenges, and we would like to bring into the spotlight some concrete examples of the issues they are facing. ESPERA facilitators Gilda, Gabi, and Eva sent us the most recent reports from their conversations with the women in El Salvador. Some of these stories are quite harrowing and emotional.

These interviews have been translated from Spanish and edited for clarity.

Silvia (venta de quesadillas, tamales y típicos – selling quesadillas, tamales, and other typical foods)

Do you know anyone who has emigrated?
My son went to the United States with my 5-year-old granddaughter on February 16. He went for economic reasons and because of the violence. He is there but still hasn’t found work. Although he and his wife aren’t together, they decided that their daughter should go with her father. Since she was born, we as a family have watched out for my granddaughter. Although my son’s wife didn’t have much, including milk, we always helped out, and so she decided that the girl should go with him.Silvia Antonia Mejia Garcia

How does belonging to a local woman’s group help you deal with the difficulties in your country?
It helps to belong to a group of women because women give one another strength. We share in our hard times and successes, disappointments and achievements.

If you were in a situation of risk, do you think that an ESPERA loan would help you stay in place?
Yes, it would help me because it is already helping me get ahead, and without the funds it would be more difficult.

Zulma (Iniciativa económica de crianza de pollo – raising chickens)

Do you know anyone who has emigrated?
One of my aunts went to the U.S. to get out of a bad economic situation and to help her parents.

imageedit_15_6425210367How does belonging to a local woman’s group help you deal with the difficulties in your country?
Economically, it helps us face the situation and move forward little by little, because to have the will to get ahead is powerful. ESPERA is our opportunity to keep going little by little, and it also teaches us to be self-sustainable.

If you were in a situation of risk, do you think that an ESPERA loan would help you stay in place?
Thank God, there’s no risk of gang violence in the place where we live. ESPERA is an opportunity that has come to us so that we can gradually improve our economic situation.

Juanita (Iniciativa económica ganado de engorde – cattle breeding)

Do you know anyone who has emigrated to the U.S.?
Yes, many people left in 2016 and 2017 – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters. For what reasons? Mainly – the economic reasons, and because of the violence. It is easier to bring children who are under age, and some people do choose to bring their sons and daughters.

imageedit_3_2524808060

How does belonging to a local woman’s group help you deal with the difficulties in your country?
Psychologically, it helps, because you learn a lot about different institutions and organizations here, and that’s how you help your daughters, sons, and friends.

If you were in a situation of risk, do you think that an ESPERA loan would help you stay in place?
If it was a situation of economic risk, it could help, because with the funds it would be possible to work in a business and generate income.

Nora N. (Iniciativa económica de crianza de pollos – raising chickens)

Do you know anyone who has emigrated?
Yes – in our community in the last three years, men, women, and children have left. Some women migrated because their partners are in another country, others go because of the fear they have of the situations in their countries, and many people leave because there aren’t enough jobs.imageedit_17_9139284316

How does belonging to a local woman’s group help you deal with the difficulties in your country?
Being in a group has helped me create projects that help me develop a business and make an income.

If you were in a situation of risk, do you think that an ESPERA loan would help you stay in place?
That would depend on the situation, but there haven’t been any problems so far.

Sabina (Iniciativa económica de elaboración de bisutería y joyas de acero – making and selling steel jewelry)

imageedit_10_8657767046Do you know anyone who has emigrated?
Yes, a friend has left to the U.S. with her 2-year-old son because there were too many gangs in their neighborhood.

How does belonging to a local woman’s group help you deal with the difficulties in your country?
By being part of an organization, I was able to help other families, and primarily women.

If you were in a situation of risk, do you think that an ESPERA loan would help you stay in place?
Yes, by allowing me to have a small business, making jewelry and art out of metal.

Wendy (Iniciativa económica de venta cosméticos y sandalias – selling cosmetics and sandals)

Do you know anyone who has emigrated?imageedit_13_9873093560
A friend went to the U.S. because of the situation with gangs.

How does belonging to a local woman’s group help you deal with the difficulties in your country?
Being organized benefits all of us.

If you were in a situation of risk, do you think that an ESPERA loan would help you stay in place?
It helps us generate and grow income.

María (venta de fruta y verduras – selling fruits and vegetables)

Do you know anyone who has emigrated?
Yes, a friend. She’s actually my daughter in law, my son’s wife. She went with her 3 year old son in May of last year. Although the boy wasn’t my son’s biological child, they raised him together from the time he was six months old. Now my son is sad, and he really wants to be there with them. They had to go to the United States because of the violence. Maria Elida GuardadoSomebody killed her brother in front of their house and threatened their whole family. She escaped, and later she and her son were granted asylum in the United States.

If you were in a situation of risk, do you think that an ESPERA loan would help you stay in place?
It wouldn’t help in these cases, because if some of the young people here realize that you have something of value, there they are. Last year they stole the cow that I had invested my loan from ESPERA in, and it was already worth $900 when they took it. I know who they were and where they brought it, but I couldn’t do anything because I couldn’t risk having problems with them.

How does belonging to a local woman’s group help you deal with the difficulties in your country?
I think it has helped because it’s important for us as mothers to continue advising our children and young people. For example, I have two young boys, one of them is married, he works here in the country and is at peace. The other one, who is with me at home (his partner left him) also works and is at peace. He prefers to work in the maize fields, sowing corn, and he goes where they are offering work, but he does stay here in the community. He doesn’t like to work in the capital because it costs a lot to get there and back, and it is very unsafe. As a country, we should enable young people to work so they can occupy their minds and invest their time in something productive.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*