The secret is to believe in yourself

Article by the Provincial Office of Communications,
Province of Colombo-Venezolana.

The El Buen Pastor Foundation of the Province of Colombo-Venezolana provides spiritual accompaniment and fosters opportunities for the empowerment of women oppressed and excluded by interrelated forms of inequality, discrimination, and domination so that - free of violence – they can achieve the goals they hope for their life.

In November 2021, on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and in response to the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence worldwide, the Foundation held the contest 'The secret is to believe in yourself: if you can assert your rights, you can achieve many more things'. The contest sought to send a message about the prevention of violence against women from the voices of program participants who recounted their perception of violence in creative ways.

Contest participants at the Esperanza community center in Venezuela.

Voices of women participants

"I was born and raised in the countryside in the Municipality of San Luis. I arrived in Medellín by forced displacement, fleeing violence. When I encountered the Foundation, they began to give me wonderful training, and enable me to recognize our rights are as women.

I lost the fears and doubts that I brought with me; now I feel calm and accompanied. In addition to this, I was able to create my business selling 'Antioquia chorizos,' which I make myself and distribute to order." (Marleny Salazar)

"Everything you learn is an advantage," these are the words of Oriannis Ávila (left), a strong woman who trusted her abilities. She says: "my participation in the contest was very enriching since I learned new things and faced up to my stage fright. I proved to be a capable woman with comprehension skills, and above all, I learned to trust myself.

Through my journey with the El Buen Pastor Foundation, I managed to change many aspects of my life, such as my emotional tranquility, being patient, and always looking for solutions to problems. Today I feel that I have liberated myself, that little by little, I have become the woman I want to be, empowered and confident of the great things I can achieve."

"When I was invited to participate in the contest, I felt very comfortable, given that on many occasions, we do not talk about the issues of violence that women suffer. These actions teach us how to prevent violence and recognize that we cannot be care-less as women, and we should not remain silent. Our actions are the ones that will change the way.

As a woman, I suffered violence, but I began to project myself, and thanks to the accompaniment of the Foundation and with the support of a psychologist, I began to enter my inner self. Even after recognizing that, as migrant women, things are not easy, I began to question what my life project was all about. I recognized that I could be happy, that I was not alone, and that I could get ahead. I began to know myself, my roles, and the gifts that God gave me and was able to create my own project of crafts, sweet gastronomy, and artisan varieties.

Thanks to this, I have been able to support myself and my family, who are in Venezuela. I invite women to multiply their voices and tell other women that they are not alone and that, just as I was able to achieve many things, they also can." (Yuliany Villamizar)

It is worth highlighting the potential, motivation, and achievements of several of the women who have participated since 2020 in the El Buen Pastor Foundation program in Colombia and Venezuela. It becomes visible through their voice in the face of the perception of a life free of violence and empowerment for change.