“When Sleeping Women Awake…”
On February 22, 2013, Dilva de Paiva Silva and María Regina Soeira, mothers of grown children, graduated from Faculdades Integradas de Jacarepagua (Integrated Universities) of Rio de Janeiro, Brasil with nursing degrees, a proof to me that “When sleeping women awake, mountains will move…
On February 22, 2013, Dilva de Paiva Silva and María Regina Soeira, mothers of grown children, graduated from Faculdades Integradas de Jacarepagua (Integrated Universities) of Rio de Janeiro, Brasil with nursing degrees, a proof to me that “When sleeping women awake, mountains will move.” — an ancient Chinese proverb.
This was not an easy accomplishment as both of them worked all these years to help support their families in the low income area they lived in. Both began their story towards this victory with the Community Health Educator’s Training course I taught in the shanty town in which they lived.
María Regina, mother of 3, was widowed at an early age, remarried and was among the first group of women I trained in Rio in 1995. She finished the course in 1997. Here are her words:
“In this training for health educators, I began to understand what my son’s problems were and I wanted to learn more. I wanted to share with others what I was learning about how to care for our children and to prevent illnesses. In 1996, during the rainy season, our area was completely flooded and I began to volunteer with others who were taking the health course to watch over the health of the families in our community. In 1999, Barbara asked me to be a teacher of this Health Educator’s training Course in the area. This motivated me even more to want to work in the health field.
Soon after the flooding, Barbara de Sousa and others founded and built, with the financial help of US churches, a family health clinic where all of us volunteered. Our work with this flood crisis drew the attention of the city health department. In 1997, the Association of Health Educators, which we had formed and registered, signed a contract with the city to finance a free Family Health Clinic in our shantytown. I then became one of the first paid health educator agents in the clinic. In 2001, I went back to school to become a nurse’s assistant, graduated in 2006 and was promoted to work in this capacity in our clinic. During the dengue epidemic of 2009, I knew that I wanted to study more and read about the possibility of studying nursing in night courses that were opening up. So I became a student again. “
Then 4 ½ years ago, while working in the clinic as a nurse’s assistant and raising a family, María Regina went to college at night and successfully graduated on the 22nd of February. Dilva was also my student at the Community Health Educator’s training course in 1999 and, as María Regina, a love for work in the health field became an ambition; but for a poor woman, it was just a dream. She first became a health educator in our clinic. But Dilva was a determined woman and, like María Regina, wanted more education. She finished a nurse’s assistant’s course in 2004. As she struggled to raise her two sons, work in the clinic and go to school, she became more and more certain that she wanted to be a nurse. However, at that time there were no nursing courses in the universities at night; as she needed to work, it seemed an impossible dream. Many, many times, she told me of her dream and how impossible it seemed, but she was not going to give up. In 2006, some schools were opening up night courses for nurses and Dilva’s dreams began to seem possible except for the financial part. But, like María Regina, she got partial scholarships because she was already working in the field.
Their husbands and children were supportive and both María Regina and Dilva received financial help from our Association of Community Health Educators and the US Churches that have always supported the Association financially. Thus, their success is our success, too, yours and mine. Truly, “When sleeping women awake, mountains will move”.