By Emily Feldmesser
A mission trip to Honduras impacted the life of the woman who started the Mi Esperanza organization, but it has also changed many Honduran women’s lives.
On March 4, Janet Hines, Mi Esperanza’s founder, came to speak to Ohio Wesleyan students about her organization and how it impacts the lives of Honduran women and her own life.
Translating to “my hope”, Mi Esperanza hopes to empower women in Honduras by educating them and then helping them find jobs.
“This organization is not only a passion, but it’s a part of me,” Hines said. “Not a day goes by that I don’t talk about the organization.”
Hines spoke of a mission trip she took in 1998 with her youngest son. She felt “an overwhelming amount of emotions” when she went and saw the conditions that people were living in.
Hines is the aunt of junior Jenna Reeger, a member of the Interfaith House. The event was Reeger’s house project.
“The speaker is a strong Christian and she was inspired to found the organization because of her faith, which is why I wanted to share her story as my house project,” she said.
Mi Esperanza offers sewing classes, a beauty school and computer classes, and the women receive diplomas upon completion of these classes. Hines said these diplomas are the only degree that some these women will ever have.
The classes that Mi Esperanza offers are free for the women; students are only required to procure their own transportation.
Hines said she wants to add literacy and English classes to the organization.
The work that Mi Esperanza is doing is being recognized by local businesses and hotels, which then help the women get jobs to support their families.
In the sewing classes, the women make their own patterns and designs, which turn into bags, purses and wallets that are for sale through the organization.
One aspect Hines wanted to do was to educate the mothers. She said “their children’s education would become very important to them once they realize how education has impacted them.”
“If you’re helping the moms, you’re helping six or seven kids along the way,” she said. “…We love what we do and we love to share it. I’m really excited for what the next 10 years hold.”
Mi Esperanza also helps women who graduated from their program start their own businesses by givinh them microloans. Using microloans, the women are able to hire other people in the community, providing more jobs. The women pay back the loan to the organization, which will in turn help other women.
“Mi Esperanza brings hope to women, young and old, by giving them educational and financial tools that enable them to change their lives and the future of their children,” according to the website.
Freshman Bill Boaz said he thought Hines’s speech was “inspirational.”
“It’s a beautiful organization doing beautiful things,” he said.
Freshman Ali Phillips said she found the event “eye-opening.”
“I’m very surprised to see what’s going on there,” she said.