"Yes we can!"
MUCEC began in 1985 with efforts to
help some of the poorest of Colon’s impoverished inhabitants
-- the abused women and their children with little or no income. Unlike other programs,
MUCEC seeks a permanent solution rather than a temporary fix of the
problem via a handout. Thus, MUCEC each woman is treated
according to her various
levels of need. Attendance at weekly formation sessions is obligatory,
and these meetings deal with relevant themes suggested by the women
themselves: mental and
physical health, hygiene, family relations, domestic violence, political and
human rights issues, as well as monthly Faith and Reality Sessions.
Secondly, skill development workshops create both economic
possibilities and also a sense of accomplishment previously unknown to
these oppressed and battered women. Thirdly, skills are implemented
in communal production with an emphasis on feminine solidarity.
Whether or not they actually “produce” a final product, the women
learn to work together and share responsibility. Additionally, related programs provide formation and education for their children.
the miserable conditions in parts of Colon, Panama, where the unemployment is
currently 56%, jobs, when available, are low-paying and insecure,
housing conditions are deplorable (over 27,000 people live in
condemned housing), and 58% of families are single mother families –
progress is slow, and change even slower.
does, however, occur. We have witnessed repeatedly violated, humiliated and
oppressed women find shreds of human dignity from which to build new
to grow. We have seen the malnourished children of these women learn to read
or just to say “thank you”. Once launched, the empowering search for
self-respect and human dignity is not easily lost. Hence, after
years of slow, painful struggle, and almost constant
evaluation, our prospects are stronger than ever, and our motto remains
“Si podemos” – “Yes we can”.