By Susan Burke March
There’s a saying attributed to more than one male philosopher that says, “Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you’ve fed him for a lifetime.”
Education is no doubt, important. It is a key component of lifelong success. It’s important to develop skills so that if that handout doesn’t reappear, you don’t starve.
But education is not always sufficient to change lives. As a wellness professional, I know that just telling someone how to change his or her life isn’t effective. But investing in someone’s psyche, building self-confidence through supportive counseling, and education is.
Casa Maria Amor, a foundation established in 2004, provides shelter and a healing place for women and their children suffering from domestic violence. This is a uniquely supportive environment to effect change.
Casa Maria Amor defines the difference between providing a temporary solution (secure shelter, food, clothing) and providing women the tools to improve themselves, learning the principles for solving problems. There is always the need for the temporary solutions, but Casa Maria Amor Foundation operates under a different paradigm. They are creating a path for women to follow to a more empowered, healthful, and successful future.
Violence against women in Ecuador is a widespread problem — studies report that 70% of Ecuadorian women experience some form of physical, psychological or sexual abuse in their lifetime.
All forms of IPV (intimate partner violence) are devastating to a woman’s health, including increased risk for depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and of course, lasting permanent pain and physical disability. Women who are victims of IPV are at higher risk for unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Studies show that 40% to 70% of female murder victims are killed by their husbands or boyfriends.
Casa Maria Amor was founded with the leadership and support of the Caritas Feldkirch-Austria, with additional support from the Municipality of Cuenca. This first of its kind women’s domestic violence shelter in Cuenca, then located in El Centro at Baltazara de Calderon y Miguel Velez, dedicates their efforts to providing a healing environment for women and their children leaving a dangerous situation.
Mujeres con Exito in Cuenca
The location of the original shelter in Cuenca has evolved into Mujeres con Exito, in English, Successful Women. Women who have been sheltered at Casa Maria Amorin the country advance when they’re ready for Mujeres in the city. Here they practice life skills — skills that can change their lives.
The Asociacion Mujeres con Exito of the Casa Maria Amor’s mission is to help women who have been abused develop life and job skills that will improve their lives and the lives of their children in Cuenca. The association contains a laundromat, a cafe, and catering, all staffed by the women residents.
Many come to the shelter thinking that they’ll never be able to live independently. After all, that is what kept so many feeling trapped by their abusers. But they do have skills — they are mothers, they are homemakers — their skills are realized, refined and reinforced. They earn wages as well as invaluable experience and confidence — invaluable for self-sufficiency. Graduates may live in one of the five apartments upstairs, and continue to advance their knowledge. A number of expat volunteers teach additional life skills, including sewing and first aid. For some photos of the women in the kitchen at Mujeres con Exito in Cuenca, click here.
The catering operation is growing in popularity —the building has recently been refurbished by volunteers. Mujeresis also the site for social events, meetings, gatherings, and fundraisers this year, and can accommodate a small group of guests, or up to 120. It’s a wonderful setting for your next party.
Friday, March 22, 6 to 10 p.m.: Save The Date! At Tomebamba Rotary! With Cindy Benson!
Casa Maria Amor and Mujers con Exito is hosting the Fourth Annual Fundraiser. This is an event you will not want to miss! The Tomebamba Rotary is a wonderful event space, with plenty of room to enjoy the music of the talented Cindy Benson, Cuenca’s Favorite Songbird!
The Tomebamba Rotary Clubhouse is located at 27 de Febrero 41-16 y Francisco Moscoso
An elegant menu of passed hors d’oeuvres, delicious dinner and dessert, cash bar, super raffle and
An evening with Cuenca’s favorite songbird … Cindy Benson!
Cash bar and passed Hors d’ oeuvres
Chateaubriand or Vegetarian Selection
Bundle of Asparagus, Green Beans,
Zucchini and Yellow Squash
Choux Pastry Puffs
Fabulous Raffle – 3 tickets for $5
Restaurants, Paintings, Vocation Site, Jewelry, Books, Personal Services
Donation – $25
Door Prize – New Kindle 8 Tablet… and stay tuned, there will be more!
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your seat
Pay at door but you need a reservation please – tickets are still available.
or – easier! pay with Paypal to email@example.com
$25 and $ for raffle tickets to be collected at door on March 22nd
If you would like to donate a raffle prize for the event please contact Debby Plumlee Larsen: firstname.lastname@example.org
Taxi service available when the event is over.
Western Journal of Emergency Medicine. The Economic Burden of Intimate Partner Violence in Ecuador: Setting the Agenda for Future Research and Violence Prevention Policies. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3735382/