OUR success stories
Every day we work to tackle the constraints that limit women’s progress, access to education, economic opportunities, earnings, and productivity. We make a space for their voices and advocate with governmental agencies and society for the issues affecting them and their next generations.
They are women with great value and very much loved by God.
Here are some amazing testimonials of their progress!
A Childhood Dream Fulfilled
Lucila is a gentle and vibrant 65-year, who dreamed as a child of using her hands to sew with skill and beauty. Yet growing up in an impoverished barrio in Nicaragua, she was only able to reach the second grade of school. For most of her life she has lived in extreme poverty, afflicted by food insecurity, underpaid jobs, inadequate housing, lack of healthcare and resources.
Before Transforma, she lacked hope and did not believe that she could achieve her aspirations, especially as she is now raising grand children as a single parent.
“Okay, God. What now?”
There had to be something for her.
When her community leader (who is in an strategic alliance with Transforma) told her about our Foundations programs, she immediately felt a surge of joy and happiness. This joy continued as she learned new skills, achieved her dream of sewing and discovered a family at Transforma that now cares and loves her.
Through our Personal Development Programs she has recognized her potential and acknowledged that despite her age and her difficult living conditions in a slum in San José city, she still can provide a better future for herself and for the grandchildren who depend on her. Currently, Lucila is being empowered with entrepreneurial skills to be able to start her own micro business for self employment and survival.
A Smiling Face Behind the Door
Lucy, a 32-year-old from El Salvador, illuminates all of her interactions with warmth and hospitality. She interned with Transforma for a year, visiting families connected to Transforma, facilitating and translating for visiting teams. She witnessed women who started in Transforma believing they had no purpose, be transformed to women who now believe they value, their lives have meaning and direction.
Lucy says: “Not only has Transforma impacted and radically changed their personal lives but has also brought healing, restoration, and empowerment to their families.”
A Gift Given to Give
She studied fashion design in Costa Rica and later in Argentina where she lived for 6 years. Just like her laugh and her wit, Camille’s style and entrepreneurial business is unique. When Camille moved back to Costa Rica she experienced a growing desire to teach and give to others the gift God had given to her.
It was essential to her that she found a place where she could freely do that. Then one day, she met a volunteer from Mexico who directed her to Transforma, which turned to be the opportunity she had been searching for. She has since become Transforma’s Advanced Sewing Teacher and Mentor.
In her classes, the women who are her students have difficulties in various areas in their lives. Their relationships are broken, many did not attend school, have low self-esteem, and have little access to resources. They change as they work through their courses. They have healthier relationships, achieve in their studies, improve how they perceive themselves, develop community with other women, and now have a way to live and work.
Camille says: ¨For me, Transforma is like family. I’ve met women from all over Costa Rica and other countries. They are like my sisters, like a huge community and I love that.”
Megan - Volunteer
A Childhood Dream Fulfilled
My name is Megan McKinley and I have had the privilege to work with Transforma for month 10 of my World Race program. After spending 9 months in other NGO and ministry programs around the world (Kosovo, Romania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Panama, Costa Rica), as well as recently completing a master in Urban Ministry, I feel like I have the credibility to say that Transforma is an excellent case study for human development and entrepreneurship.
The approach they take in alleviating poverty in the surrounding communities is not through “hand outs” or other instant relief efforts. Instead, they invite women into a supportive community where they will learn a variety of skills. Manicure/pedicure, hair styling, sewing, and massage classes are a few of their skill development opportunities. Passionate and experienced teachers spend several hours a week pouring out their knowledge and encouragement through their individual classes.
Yet, they do not simply leave them with a learned skill. They also provide an opportunity to study entrepreneurship, which enables them to turn that skill into an income producing business.
Acquiring these skills is only the beginning of the development these women experience. The real transformation comes in the relationships that the women form at Transforma. I had the task of interviewing several women for a promotional video project, and the content of their answers primarily focused on the “family” they had in Transforma. They did mention the joy they experienced from learning new skills, but finding a place of belonging dominated our conversation.
These women light up when they come through the doors and I believe it is because they know they are loved and cared for here, despite their backgrounds. As founder Vanessa would say, “we do not care where you are coming from, we care where you are going.” Having acceptance, encouragement, friendship, discipleship, education, and love is what makes Transforma successful in changing lives. I hope to see more poverty alleviation efforts match the strategy and standard in which Transforma sustains.
Let the Children Come
She sees and loves the women that come to Transforma but she also shares her heart with their children. Vivian is 39-years-old and freely offers her time to Transforma as a volunteer. While the women are in class, she focuses her care and tenderness to the kids.
The children that come are often in tough, impoverished living conditions and dealing with a lot of big problems for their still tiny heart to carry. When they arrive and start praying and asking questions, their heart begins to open up. Their smiles appear and some kids even become believers growing in their childlike faith.
Vivian says: “Transforma functions in a way where everything they do brings a positive impact. For me, it was the kids. I think I will impact the lives of the kids but they always impact mine just as much if not more.”
Generation to Generation
Cindy scooped up her little girl and set her on her lap. Her daughter squirmed and instantly hopped down to explore. Cindy is a 21-year-old mother living in ultra poverty. She says: “I am extremely grateful that Transforma does not discriminate between social classes. It doesn’t matter where you come from or who you are. The staff teaches, welcomes and accepts us with a lot of love.”
Cindy, her mother and grandmother joined Transforma to learn basic skills in manicure, pedicure and therapeutic massage. Cindy saw how women – such as her family – were given opportunities to become more professional and she wanted that as well.
In Transforma she has been given a new perspective of the world and herself. She emphasized that through Transforma, women who are tangled in terrible experiences receive empowerment and education that betters their lives.
Auxiliadora - An alliance leader and teacher
Making the Impossible Possible
Auxiliadora comes from a community called Tríangulo Solidaridad which is built on an area zoned as “national road land” that developed with unofficial housing. The people illegally live in this slum. In this neighborhood, people live in ultra poverty.
Drug abuse, violence, criminal activity, food insecurity, irregular income, lack of skills, and assets distress the lives of the ultra poor in her community every day. The fact that most are excluded from social services and healthcare because of their illegal condition in the country (a majority Nicaraguan immigrants) increases the stress of life.
Auxiliadora heard about Transforma in 2016, since then she has brought 18 women from her community to train in our skill development programs. This has transformed not just her life but also her community.
Through our additional programs they have received health and emotional support, child care, the opportunity to be connected to other opportunities. These other opportunities are possible through our alliances, scholarships for food, and transportation. The women travel almost 3 hours to participate in Transforma’s programs.
This has created a new vision for these women to help each other start up micro businesses for survival for self-employment that they can take with them to the places government has promised to relocate them. They have been on a waiting list for 3 years now.
Dani - Participant
From the Streets to Transformation
Dani is a 22-year-old young woman, today full of gratefulness and appreciation for the turn her life is currently taking. Before she entered the programs at Transforma, she was treading a path that put her and her three-year-old boy in the streets because of drug abuse and prostitution.
She didn’t want to remain in brokenness and darkness so she chose to attend a restoration center that is in strategic alliance with Transforma, giving her the opportunity to attend our manicure/pedicure, soap making and other courses.
Dani has learned new skills, has started trusting in herself and believing that change really is possible. She realized this revelation could only come from God’s loving care and the committed people at Transforma. She believes their dedication, love and care has been foundational in her radical change.
Dani says: “It makes me so happy to know there are people who honestly care for others. In reality, it is a wonderful opportunity that I will not take for granted.”
Ana - Participant
Empowering A Mother For A Better Future
After leaving an emotional abusive relationship and learning that her 4-year-old grandson really belonged to her husband, Ana had to pack her few belongings to rent a small place for herself and children. Then one day a neighbour told her about Transforma’s Family Centre, where she could learn the skills needed for independence, confidence, and employment to nurture a safe and healthy family.
She first joined our counselling sessions and cohort group meetings with other women who were also vulnerable and at high social risk. The same year she joined our skill development programs (hair cutting, manicure, pedicure and massage therapy). She started working part time to be able to pay her rent, her kids’ food and education expenses.
She continued training in Transforma, joined our entrepreneurial training, learned administrative skills (beginner finances, effective communication, team building, marketing, etc), wrote her micro business plan, with help of our team she filled nine requirements to apply for a government grant for entrepreneurial women in poverty.
After a 3 year process of empowerment in Transforma, Ana received the scholarship to buy beauty equipment and supplies to start her own mobile micro business from her home. Ana says ¨ Transforma is my second family.¨
Transforma’s Multi Start Up Program gave Ana hope for her future, positive energy, made her active and productive.
She started believing in herself, that her family could heal and together they could change their future. She now has enough income to meet her life’s basic needs and is very hopeful that she can in the near future open her own Beauty Salon to give jobs to her mates in Transforma and provide a brighter future for her children