Sunday, May 21, 2006

Hear me roar: Latina women organize to save families

By BRIAN CHARLES

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 5:21 PM PDT

“I am woman, hear me roar” are words made popular in a Helen Reddy song. Reddy charted more than a dozen Top 40 songs, inspiring a generation of young women to empower themselves. Sonya Vera, a court interpreter for Big Bear Lake, hopes to do the same for young Latina women in Big Bear.

It wasn't a song that inspired Vera it was the Gathering for Women hosted by Carol Treadwell, a counselor in Big Bear Lake.. At the end of the session Vera and all the women in attendance were asked to make a promise to the community. Her promise was to help create a forum for Latin women to address issues that affect the community.

Movimiento de Mujeres Hispanas, the Movement of Hispanic Women, meets every Friday at 41945 Big Bear Blvd., Suite 221, Big Bear Lake, in Summit Plaza. The group began meeting in November. Teen pregnancy was the group's first topic, Vera said. The groups of mothers, wives and women noticed an alarming number of young pregnant Latinas, she said. The women talked about self-esteem, birth control and responsibility.

The group's numbers expand and new topics are tackled each week, Vera said. Attendance can be as many as 20 women and young girls per week.

“Any woman is invited,” Vera said. Vera hopes the group can educate women and young girls, because, as she put it, no one else is willing to do the job.


The group met May 12 for a workshop on monitoring children's Internet use. Sara Myers, Internet technology director for World Oil, showed the women how to screen out inappropriate Web sites. As Myers wove her way through the laptop's control panel showing the women how screen Web sites the women diligently took notes. Some waited for Nancy Estrada to translate.

Myers told the women to set a preferences password . She discouraged them from using something too common like the dog's name. Vera had a foolproof password the children will never guess. “Use the name of the first or second boyfriend, not even the husband knows that,” Vera said, drawing giggles from the women. The May 12 meeting wasn't as well attended as previous meetings, Vera said. However, those unable to attend will be tutored by the women who were there.

With all this woman power the men must be jealous. Vera said no. The women's husbands are trying to form their own group. Like most things men do, they are slow to get going. “They need a push,” Vera said.

The Movimiento De Mujeres Hispanas meets Friday, . The topic: drugs and alcohol.

Contact reporter Brian Charles at (909) 866-3456, ext. 134 or by e-mail at briancharles@bigbeargrizzly.net.

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