I Am a Woman Leader

23 noviembre, 2009

Voices from the Field

Born in Larreynaga, Malpaisillo, Teresa Centeno is a licensed nurse and health educator at Pro Mujer.  With over five years working at Pro Mujer in Nicaragua, Teresa is no stranger to the excitement and challenges of being a health educator; Teresa shares her story in her own words.

Growing up, I always knew that Pro Mujer existed; I knew about the services it offered because I occasionally accompanied my mother, a client of Pro Mujer, to repayment meetings. I never imagined that one day I would work for the organization.  Years later, a friend told me that Pro Mujer was looking for nurses to provide healthcare and training. I became excited by the opportunity and luckily got the job.

My first breakdown began with my debut as trainer.  At one of my first Communal Bank meetings, a client made me feel bad; I felt ignored, neglected, and that my job had no real purpose.  I felt like crying, and I told the head doctor at Pro Mujer Nicaragua, Dr. Martha Garcia, about it.  I felt out of place.  I did not think I could handle it, so I quit.  All of this happened in my first 15 days on the job!

Thankfully, the staff at Pro Mujer was supportive.  They knew from experience that this work is difficult.  They gave me advice and encouragement. I learned to empathize with the women.  Many women have various problems and have no one to share them with which, the staff explained, is often the cause of their reactions.  This is what makes our job so important.  We help women change their attitudes, feel empowered, take care of their health and start their own businesses, but the women struggle.  This is the type of job that you have to want and love to do in order to do it well.

The attitude change that Pro Mujer promotes is not exclusive to our clients, our personnel undergoes a change as well.  We learn from the women and each other, we bond. I like the idea of helping women improve their quality of life and knowing they can achieve things they once thought impossible to reach.

I have also grown close with many of the clients.  We laugh together and cry together.  They appreciate the services that we provide, and they appreciate how close the staff is to them.  They trust me.

Now I say: my job is important, and I am going to contribute to a change that will make a difference in yesterday’s woman to that of today! I am a 24-hour leader—a leader at work, a leader of my actions, and a leader of my home—and I plan on continuing to work with this very noble cause.