Hero Spotlight: Hope and Survival Skills Erase Maritza’s Fear in Panama

March 22, 2017

Survival Skills Student, Panama

Violence, abuse, illness and poverty have plagued the lives of many of the young girls now found in the orphanages we serve in Panama. Without the skills to care for themselves and live independently, many fear what their futures hold. With the skills and encouragement that Just Hope’s Survival Skills program provides through teaching, mentoring and friendships, girls are overcoming those fears. We are so inspired by the dedication shown by these girls to overcome – a solid foundation for making an “impact that lasts.”

When Maritza was three years old, she lost her mother to AIDS. Shortly thereafter, she was taken to an orphanage by her father, who could no longer afford to care for her. A few years later, her father also passed away.

A very shy girl, Maritza lacked self-confidence to such a level that she rarely dared to go outside of the orphanage. Last year, at 15, she began the Just Hope Survival Skills program. After only a year and with the support of teachers and peers like Cheryl and Walkiria, Maritza completely transformed.

Survival Skills Students, Panama

Survival Skills Students in Panama

Now, Maritza uses her newfound skills to shop for groceries and plan household menus. She has been responsible for independently running her house for a week, which she shares with several other girls. And, she now has the confidence to leave the orphanage on her own to attend appointments. Not only that, but this once “very shy girl” even gave an interview to a local TV station!

In a note expressing what the Survival Skills classes in Panama have meant to her, Maritza wrote, “This workshop has taught me to not fear, and everything that I set my mind to do I will accomplish. I also learned that we must always remember and not forget that we can accomplish our dreams despite difficulties in our lives. And I am very thankful for the people in Just Hope.”

Maritza plans to graduate next year and pursue a college education in medicine. She would like to become a pediatrician. And, now, she has the skills and confidence to go after her dreams! We are so proud of Maritza for the accomplishments she has made over the past year and as a Just Hope Hero, her story will inspire others like her to persevere.