MUCEC was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1985 in an effort to help some of the poorest of Colon’s impoverished inhabitants - the abused women and their children with little or no income.
MUCEC was founded to enable the poor and abused women and their children to help themselves to become productive citizens. MUCEC aims to teach self-confidence and useful skills and to instil belief and hope that a better quality of life is possible for even the least fortunate. Unlike other programs, MUCEC seeks a permanent solution rather than a temporary fix of the problem via a handout.
At MUCEC each woman is treated according to her various levels of need. Attendance at weekly formation sessions is obligatory, and these meetings deal with relevant themes suggested by the women themselves: mental and physical health, hygiene, family relations, domestic violence, political and human rights issues, as well as monthly Faith and Reality Sessions.
Secondly, skill development workshops create both economic possibilities and also a sense of accomplishment previously unknown to most of these oppressed and battered women.
Thirdly, skills are implemented in communal production with an emphasis on feminine solidarity. Whether or not they actually “produce” a final product, the women learn to work together and share responsibility. Additionally, related programs provide formation and education for their children.
Under the miserable conditions in parts of Colon, Panama, where the unemployment is currently 56%, jobs, when available, are low-paying and insecure, housing conditions are deplorable (over 27,000 people live in condemned housing), and 58% of families are single mother families – progress is slow, and change even slower.
Change does, however, occur. We have witnessed repeatedly violated, humiliated and oppressed women find shreds of human dignity from which to build new lives and to grow. We have seen the malnourished children of these women learn to read or just to say “thank you”. Once launched, the empowering search for self-respect and human dignity is not easily lost. Hence, after years of slow, painful struggle, and almost constant evaluation, our prospects are stronger than ever, and our motto remains “Si podemos” – “Yes we can”.