Maricela’s Story

I remember dropping off my child to a school next to South Central LAMP, and I would notice many women going into the school with their babies and I wondered what kind of programs they offered. I noticed that the moms would come in to the school and would never leave. I was curious to find out what they taught at South Central LAMP. So, I went inside the office to ask for more information about the classes that they offer to children and I was informed that they also offered English classes for the moms. I had two children at the time and knowing that they accepted women and children into the program, I decided to join the waiting list. It took me two years for me to finally get into the program and by the time I was informed about it, I was no longer interested because I had more children and was pregnant with my fifth child. The women at South Central LAMP told me to take the opportunity to learn English. I had talked to my husband about it and he encouraged me to do it as well. I put myself on the waiting list again and that time it was a short wait. It was difficult at first because I had to make sure to attend every day, but it wasn’t impossible. I realized that I was learning English and becoming better at speaking the language. Before I began attending the program, I did not know any English and could not understand it at all. I remember going to my children’s school and they would tell me to ask their teacher something. I couldn’t comprehend anything the teacher was saying. My kids would only tell me that everything was fine, that they’re doing well in school. Once I started learning English at South Central LAMP, I became confident in asking my kid’s teacher how they were doing in school and I was able to understand more. My husband encourages me to speak English consistently so I can get better at it.

Before entering the program, my daily routine was to stay home with the kids. I grew up with the belief that the norm for a woman was to get up, take the kids to school, do the house chores, prepare the food, and wait until the husband and kids come home. South Central LAMP taught me that it’s not all about being a stay at home mom. That there were more opportunities for us to learn, look for a job and even spending quality time with friends. Before, I would never leave my home. Today, I am more confident in telling my husband that I am going out for coffee with my friends instead of asking him for permission. My husband would tell me that the program was making me more independent. I have grown so much as a mother and I am grateful for all the parenting classes. I now know how to help my children with their homework, I can understand what they are talking about when they speak to each other. They notice that I can understand whenever I respond to their comments. The Family Literacy program has taught me how to spend time with my kids and has taught me a great reading method. They learn while I read to them. Whenever I read a book, my kids want to read as well. I am happy that I can be an example for them.

I have become more secure about talking to my husband and not looking down whenever I do. He notices I am less timid, more direct and that I won’t take no for an answer when it comes to going out with my friends or family. I used to act like he was my owner and I would ask permission for everything. However, my husband tells me that the programs have made me a stronger woman and more secure. I used to be ashamed to look at myself in the mirror or to even dress up to look nice, I was not secure in my own skin. I now know what it’s like to feel beautiful, to go out and look my best. I feel confident in saying no when I need to and when it comes to making choices about my body. I came from a small town where men rule and the women have no say. I suffered from domestic violence and so I came to the United States with that mentality that the man makes the orders and they have the final word over everything. Taking teacher Helen’s classes has taught me to value myself, has reminded me of my worth and that I have a voice.

One of the biggest lessons I learned while attending South Central LAMP, is learning how to value diversity. We all come from different backgrounds, religions, and we all have a different story. I look at all my classmates and realize that at the end of the day, we are all one in the same because we all have the same feelings towards our kids and our family and we want to achieve the same purpose.

I would encourage every mother that attends this program to not get discouraged. Learning English is an open door to a better future for ourselves and our children. This is an opportunity that no mother who attends can miss. Three years seem so long but it went by so fast for me. There is always something to do at South Central LAMP. Now that I have completed the program, my goal is to keep learning English and take advanced classes. I also want to learn how to drive and get my license. I am very grateful to South Central LAMP for giving me the opportunity to grow as a woman, a mother and a wife. I would not say I am the best but every day I strive to be for my kids, teach them that anything is possible and that education is the foundation to move forward to a better lifestyle.