Misión México is a shelter based in Tapachula, Chiapas in Mexico that was founded in 2001 with the aim of providing a safe, stable, and loving home for children who have been abused, abandoned, or orphaned. Between 40 and 50 children are currently staying there, and throughout its more than a decade of existence Misión México has given a second chance to over 250 children in this region of Latin America.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, the Misión México team has offered us a small selection of its invaluable work, through the personal experiences of three young people who have been lucky enough to cross paths with the association. Here we present the experience of Dulce.
We at Mision México have decided to interview three exceptional young ladies from our family to celebrate International Women’s day 2014. This year’s theme is ‘Inspiring change’ and these girls certainly do that! Last week, we interviewed Katherine. Next up, it’s Dulce,
Dulce is another of Mision México’s bright, compassionate young ladies who has overcome a very difficult childhood. Now a keen surfer, a passion she inherited from her father Alan Skuse, she inspires the younger girls in her family to surf without fear and to hold their own with the boys! She loves music and, like Katherine, has chosen to pursue a career that allows her to help others: social work. She is currently in university and describes the purpose of social work as “letting people know that, as human beings, we all have the same rights – women as much as men.” When asked why she chose to study social work she told me:
“Mum (Pam Skuse) had such a good life in Australia and she left it behind and changed everything so she could help all of us. She’s been a real inspiration and continues to help even when being incredibly challenged with the children at the refuge. That’s why I’m studying to be a Social Worker, because Mum inspires me to help others.”
Dulce’s journey to University, however, has by no means been smooth. When I asked her what the biggest challenge in her life has been, it wasn’t loosing her mother to a terminal illness aged 7 or being forced to beg on the streets for money aged 12 that she quotes. It was her grandmother telling her that she didn’t need to study and that a women’s place was at home to look after men that caused the most damage. A firm believer in education from a very young age, Dulce looked to the social services for help who referred her to Mision México. Once there Pam confirmed what Dulce already knew: that she should study.
“Suddenly I didn’t have to work, I didn’t have to worry, all I had to do was study”
However, her studies where further interrupted by her worry for her younger brother who she supported through rehab to help him beat this drug addiction. Unsurprising the emotional strain affected her progress at school. “I kept asking myself ‘why is this happening to me?’ It is so hard to concentrate in school when you are so sad and I began to doubt myself and think maybe my grandmother was right.”
However, thanks to her own strength of character, bolstered by Pam and Alan’s continual encouragement, she completed high school and is now flourishing at university. While she recognises that it is hard being a woman, she is proud to be one and admires them for being mentally strong, caring and acutely aware of what is going on around them. This year’s International Women’s Day is important to Dulce: “Change needs to occur, so women are finally equal,” she told me, “all girls should have access to education; they need to show the world that jobs are not only for men!”
Dulce represents the self-starters of this world; those of us who know that they possess the intelligence, determination and compassion needed to succeed. Those of us who challenge the status quo and strive for change at all costs. Those of us with self –belief even when circumstance and loved ones tell us we shouldn’t. Not all girls are lucky enough to possess this self-belief, and never have access to the tools to find it – Dulce believes education, family and compassion are what is needed.