To support one Caribbean woman each year, in starting her own small business initiative.
Here's who we're advocating for, this year:
Miss Marilyn Alarcon
Children's Advocate. Life Counsellor. Caye Caulker, Belize.
From May, 2017 - May 2018, a portion of our profits will go directly to Miss Marilyn to support her small business initiatives in Caye Caulker, Belize.
I first met Miss Marilyn at the Ocean Academy High school in Caye Caulker, Belize, where I was teaching sexual health education. Miss Marilyn taught the life skills class at OA. I quickly learned that she was far more than a teacher. She was an unofficial counsellor, and all-around best friend to so many of the students at the high school. It was a normal occurrence for kids to knock on the staff room door to get her attention, to talk about everything from anxieties about friendships & relationships, stressors at home, or worries about love and relationships. She always had time. For every single one of them. Not only did they keep coming back to her, they would frequently track her down at home, in her yard, to talk.
Miss Marilyn lives with her husband and her 3 children in a one-bedroom house. All 5 of them, share a bed, and they have one small living room space. There is a tiny kitchen, with the only source of running water, coming from outside her kitchen window. And she is happy. She seems to thrive on supporting others.
It is Miss Marilyn's dream to start her own business. I asked her if she would be open to being the recipient of this years Women's Advocacy Scholarship. She graciously accepted.
To support Miss Marilyn, please head over to my web store to purchase an online course, where portion of proceeds will be shared. To make a donation to Miss Marilyn directly, please send me an email here. (Please note, due to difficulties in sending money to Belize, lack of Western Union offices, and overall challenges for many Belizean citizens in opening bank accounts or doing online banking, I will collect all money raised for Miss Marilyn, and will organize money be sent to her, in a safe and efficient manner!).
Here are some more details about Miss Marilyn, in her own words:
Hello! I am Marilyn Marie Alarcon, from Beautiful Belize. I was raised up in a single parent home with my beautiful mother and 8 other siblings. I must say it wasn't an easy task for my mom, who was also the caretaker of my grandmother. Many days she pulled it off with sweat and tears to provide for our family.
Education on the other hand was always a challenge. We knew that somebody would have to be left behind from not having the finances to go on to high school.
As a child I was always aware of our struggles, so being in grade school I would strive to do my best. I can recall at the age of 10, representing my school in a spelling bee contest. I was asked by the invigilator what I would like to be when I grew up. At that moment I didn't stutter, for I have always known that I was destined to help others.
When I graduated from school, I then took on the role of being a father to my 8 siblings, as my mom lost her job. I worked very hard to assist my family.
I eventually met a wonderful man whom I am with for countless years now. I am the mother of three beautiful and smart children.
For my little family, though, my task just keeps getting more difficult. At present I am taking care of my mom and my two smaller siblings and a host of others kids that I’ve met along the way.
My goal is not to leave anyone behind. As my journey continues, I want to assist and change the lives as many kids, as a Children’s Advocate & Counsellor.
If you have a woman from the Caribbean in mind who you think would be the ideal candidate for our scholarship, send me a note & let me know.
If you are associated with a Caribbean business collective, or have a community of women in the Caribbean who would be interested in taking part in a 4-week small business intensive, drop me a line!!
Why a Business Intensive in the Caribbean?
There are no words in this world to express my level of gratitude for the women in my life.
My mum, a British-born Canadian will remain always, my lifetime HERO. The woman who taught me to stand tall and proud, to speak clearly & confidently. Raised by her own awe-inspiring mother, a world war two veteran, my mother, mirrored and reflected, by her actions alone, that women can be educated, intelligent & strong, with a balance of gentle softness.
My father is a Guyanese-born Canadian. How much more blessed could I get, than to have two parents from different cultures? My Guyanese grandma was a force to be reckoned with. A Mother, a provider, a daily market-goer. A chef, a hairstylist, a woman who crossed the ocean, from Guyana to Canada, at the age of 40, to give her children an opportunity for higher education. She was a no-holds-barred Queen of decisiveness, resilience and action.
I've been on a mission -- through Guyana, Belize, Barbados, Indonesia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Nicaragua, Cuba, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia & New Zealand -- to learn how women work & what women need, not only to survive, but to THRIVE.
here's what I've come up with so far:
WOMEN ARE THE ULTIMATE MASTERS OF TURNING NOTHING INTO SOMETHING SIGNIFICANT.
I can't even count the number of women I've seen, living in a one room house, shared with a husband and multiple children, who have created LOVE, a home, a soft place for others to land.
Women work HARD. In every country of the world. WOMEN WORK TIRELESSLY + SELFLESSLY.
Much of this work goes unrecognized and is OFTEN UNDER-APPRECIATED + UNDER-PAID.
Women, when given the RIGHT skills, education & opportunities, begin to SHINE.
I truly believe that through trauma + hardship, that one constant exists -- women in developing countries who are educated to find *their* OWN purpose can thrive.
Women who have the means to create their own income can lift themselves out of poverty, can support their children, can steer away from prostitution & unwanted pregnancies, are more likely to avoid drugs & alcohol, and are more likely to access safe & supportive housing and relationships.