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Judy was able to get a new wheelchair for her son through our Mothers' Clubs program in El Salvador. Judy was able to get a new wheelchair for her son through our Mothers' Clubs program in El Salvador.

More than just a meal in El Salvador

In front of a modest church in El Salvador, women in their Sunday best file out of crowded trucks. Chattering with excitement, they walk into the church with arms full of hand-crafted jewelry and bright colored flowers. Though the scene could easily be mistaken for a Sunday morning gathering, it’s really a press conference to celebrate a new partnership between the U.S. State Department and Convoy of Hope’s Mothers’ Clubs.

At the mic, Madam Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte beams with excitement as she tells of a $60,000 grant and the newly-minted partnership between the U.S. State Department and Convoy of Hope. The grant, she says, will give women throughout El Salvador access to seed capital to start their own businesses and enable them to develop co-ops and savings groups.

After speaking to the women and media, Aponte walks by tables spread with colorful jewelry and decorative flowers made by the women, she compliments and encourages them.

“This is so special to my son and I,” says Judy, 29, moments after Aponte visits her and her disabled son, Nelson. “I felt her warmth and kindness towards us.”

Judy says her life began to change for the better in February 2013 after enrolling in the Mothers’ Clubs program.

“Even though I was attending the classes, it wasn’t easy,” admits Judy. “I had to take Nelson to class and work with him on my lap because he could not support himself. I could never leave him alone to rest.”

The women leading Judy’s Mothers’ Club immediately recognized her unique challenges and helped arrange for Convoy of Hope to get a wheelchair donated for Nelson. As soon as Nelson got his new chair, Judy’s skill level and optimism for a better life were fast tracked.

“The Mothers’ Club changed my life in more ways than one,” she says. “The wheelchair has made our lives so much easier. I can rest and work and he can have some independence.”

Judy says she makes enough money now selling her jewelry to buy food to supplement the food she receives through Convoy of Hope’s Children’s Feeding Initiative at her daughter’s school.

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A mother lost her job and found hope

Cristina lost her job about the same time she found out she was pregnant with her second child.

“When I got fired I was feeling like, ‘What am I going to do now?’” said Cristina, who is now a 32-year-old mother of two. “I didn’t have money to keep paying for my son’s school and keep bringing food to the table.”

Convoy of Hope developed Mothers’ Clubs for hard-working moms like Cristina who have the will to care for their families but need a better way forward. The program trains mothers in skills ranging from nutrition to health and hygiene and from literacy to small-scale business practices so they can care for and provide for their families.

Cristina was one of the first women to participate in Mother’s Clubs in El Salvador and she is one of about 500 women who have now graduated.

“I had no plan for my life before the Mothers’ Clubs,” she recently told a group of moms entering the program. “Now, I’m making jewelry and feeding my children.”

Cristina

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