My name is Susana García, I am from Guanajuato, Mexico and I am 43 years old. I came to the United States when I was 18 years old. Like every immigrant, I saw the need to come to seek a better future for my mother, my daughter, and myself. At that time my daughter María was ill, and with the little pay I made from fieldwork, I was not able to pay for medical attention. Unfortunately, in Mexico, if you don't have the money in hand, doctors don't see you.
We came to this country without family and without acquaintances. I got pregnant with my second child not long after we moved. I came to a country where I was not aware that I was able to go to a free clinic. I also did not know how the health system worked in this country, so I went through my pregnancy without medical attention. Neither my husband nor I had any idea how and where to go for medical care, so my son was born prematurely at 24 weeks in my bathroom apartment. Now my "baby" is 23 years old and thank God he is healthy.
One of the greatest challenges that I have had to live was when one of my children passed away at the age of 18. His life was unexpectedly taken from him. It is a pain that your mind cannot understand. It has been one of the most difficult obstacles that I have had to live.
After what happened I felt very lonely. I had no one to lean on. I did not have the support of my family that was far away, especially my mother. When I came to ROSAesROJO as a volunteer, my goal was to recruit more moms to participate in the wellness and cancer prevention program, "The Rojo Way". I just wanted to distract my mind from that sad event of the loss of my son. I was looking for a distraction so I wouldn't think about my loss.
When we started the "The Rojo Way" workshops, I knew that I would learn to eat healthier and think positively. That's when I was able to see a need in myself: I had a clear desire to think positively and learn to work on my emotions.
In the middle of "The Rojo Way" I saw my classmates share their stories and I asked myself: How is it that they are okay? How come they think positively? I remember how just talking to them made me feel better. Their joy and optimism really rubbed off on me.
The workshops ended and I continued with my sessions 1 to 1. These have been some of the best experiences of the entire program since I still did not have the strength to share certain things with the whole group.
During all the time participating in "The Rojo Way" I felt listened to, supported, and with the certainty that I could take out everything that was hurting me. Really in ROSAesROJO, I found my second family. He knew he could count on them. They called me on the phone and sent me messages of support when I needed it most.
I thank God for having put these programs in my path; I thank my teachers and my classmates with whom I am still in contact. Seeing the other participants cope with their situations with optimism prompts me to stay on my feet so that I can help more and more women.
"The Rojo Way" is for everyone, whether you are experiencing illness, dealing with a loss, or simply feeling lonely and in need of a support network. This program changed my life. My outlook on life took a 180-degree turn! The key to getting ahead is supporting each other, and I could see a change in myself as I began to focus on my needs, and also the needs of my community.
Today I feel capable of changing lives by supporting and accompanying those who need it. Now, when I see people who need optimism or support, I am able to encourage them by sharing my experiences and learnings in “The Rojo Way” and telling them how my life changed for the better.