Grant Gives Voice to Latino Women's Stories

Grant gives voice to Latino women's stories

 Updated: 1:45 am, Fri Sep 13, 2013.

The Kentucky Foundation for Women awarded a $5,500 grant last week to Centro Latino and Educational and Cultural Advancement for Latinos Inc. for the "Bilingual Latina Women's Creative Voices Project, Cronicas."

The project will include Latino women telling their life experiences, such as "immigration, domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, parenting hardships and the process of women changing their lives."

Sister Fran Wilhelm, director of Centro Latino, and Arcea Zapata De Aston, an assistant professor of Spanish at Kentucky Wesleyan College and founder and president of Educational and Cultural Advancement for Latinos Inc., will conduct the interviews along with Claudia Benson.

Interviews are expected to begin next week, with a group of 10 women. The project is expected to last from two-to-three years with additional groups of Latino women in Owensboro, Henderson, Sebree and Evansville, Wilhelm said.

"We'll start out interviewing them so they can tell their stories, and then we'll have classes in parenting and domestic violence, a lot of things that are of special interest to women," Wilhelm said. "We'll listen to what they've come through, their past experiences. We feel that telling their own stories empowers them.

"They'll tell us what their lives were like in the countries they came from and their journey here, their struggles. Very few of them have learned to talk about themselves, but when they tell their stories, we will affirm them and show them that everything they've gone through will be helpful somehow."

Zapata De Aston said the women will "benefit greatly from the project because by sharing their stories, they will have a voice to promote change in their communities.

"Latinos are the fastest growing minority, and it is important to give women a chance to rise up from their circumstances and find pride in their past, as well as encourage a new hope for their futures," she said.

"The program will provide a strong outlet for the Latina women to feel comfortable in sharing their stories. There is also the opportunity to interact with people from outside their comfort zone, such as the writers, guest speakers and KWC student volunteers working in their service learning and practicum for their Spanish classes."

The grant will pay for educational materials and other expenses.

Centro Latino is an outreach organization serving the Latino community.

The Kentucky Foundation for Women is a private foundation formed in 1985 by Louisville writer Sallie Bingham with a mission "to promote positive social change by supporting varied feminist expression in the arts."

The KFW has awarded 32 Arts Meets Activism Grants totaling $104,500 to feminist artists and social change organizations throughout the state.

Rich Suwanski, 691-7315, or


Courtesy Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer

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