One Woman Finds the Tools to Build Her Dream

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The Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership’s Acceso Training Center provides vocational training and placement for individuals living in underserved communities in Cartagena, Colombia. Below is the story of one of the Center’s graduates.

As Keissy Sanchez looks at the piece of land she has purchased and the walls that will soon house her family, she says, “Our dream is under construction.”

But this home is just a small part of a very large dream that Keissy is building. She’s a young woman and a proud mother who speaks softly, and despite many challenges in life, has a determination that has led her to achieve what at one point seemed like an impossible dream.

“She’s a young woman and a proud mother who speaks softly, and despite many challenges in life, has a determination that has led her to achieve what at one point seemed like an impossible dream.”

Keissy and her two brothers were raised by their single mother who worked as a maid to provide for her three children in any way she could. With the income she earned, Keissy’s mother was able to pay the family’s bills and provide them with the food and medicine that they needed, but these expenses left little extra for school fees. Keissy often fell behind on her school payments, having to stretch her money so thin that sometimes she had to choose between paying for breakfast or for the bus fare to get to school; other times, it was either a snack or printing her papers for class. Even though it wasn’t easy, she knew that she needed to complete her studies in order to get ahead in life and provide a life for her family full of opportunities.

After finishing school, Keissy still felt desperate. After all of the sacrifices she had made, she still could not land a job. It seemed like there were many local businesses that needed skilled labor, but Keissy didn’t meet their qualifications.  Still, she kept her eyes open for any opportunity to break into the labor market. One day Keissy noticed an advertisement for Acceso Centro de Formacion para el Trabajo (Training Center for Labor) in the township of La Boquilla, where she lives. She found out that this was a training program that would prepare her for employment. At this point, Keissy says, her life breathed new air.

Acceso provided Keissy with a scholarship and the opportunity to study Hospitality Reception Services. She embraced the hands-on training program as a gift and took advantage of it to the fullest. Once training was complete, she got an interview at the Hilton Cartagena Hotel for a front desk position. She was excited for the possibility of joining such a serious international organization, but nervous.

After two interviews, Keissy got the internship. “When the interview was over, I said goodbye and turned around, my legs were shaking, I started to cry and was just grateful to God for bringing that opportunity into my life.” says Keissy with an emotional tone of voice.

She began her internship on December 3, 2013, and shortly after completion she was offered a full-time job at the hotel.

“She embraced the hands-on training program as a gift and took advantage of it to the fullest.”

Keissy is now a Phone Operator and works extra shifts as a Reception Assistant. She is more hopeful about the future than ever – not only for her, but for the whole community.  “When we first walked through the door of Acceso, there were two or three people from the Township of La Boquilla, and now there are a whole lot of young people, whom I tell that one should never impose limits on oneself or allow people to tell us that we cannot achieve one’s goals. Sometimes we ourselves do not know our own capacities. The road to success is difficult but very fruitful,” concludes Keissy.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE BY CLINTON FOUNDATION EDITORIAL TEAM