Luisa Perez (Humbelina) after 40 years working as a schoolteacher and at the age of 56, decided to come to Monte Plata and together with Carmen Cuadrado and Tere Pagan, founded a community of insertion in this town, one of the poorest in the country, in 1985.

After an assessment of the situation, the priority was to work with women, due to their marginalized situation, their subjection to machismo and the impossibility of integrating into the labor market due to their lack of education and preparation. Thus, began the Project for the Promotion of Women, in which the entire community is involved, in addition to other pastoral commitments of the parish.

The project is carried out both in the village: in a small-rented place, and in several rural communities, some of which are very difficult to access. The promotion program includes various areas of work and training in values, human rights, women’s rights, etc.

As the project took on great importance, as more and more women came each year, with the help of Manos Unidas, a two-story building was built in the village with the necessary space and equipment. In addition to attending to the women of the village, scholarships were provided to those in the countryside so that they could receive better training, since there was little that could be taught in their places of origin.

Humbelina put soul, life and heart into this work and continues to carry on despite her physical absence, as her spirit is still very present in this project for the Promotion of Mamá Tingó Women. The name was given in recognition of a woman from this province who was assassinated because of her struggle for the rights of the poorest people, especially the peasants whose land was taken away from them by the landowners.

It is good to hear some testimonies of women who have been trained in this project:

I am Milagros and what I can say is that I owe what I am to María Luisa (that’s what all the people here called her). I started at the Center with very little education and thanks to her insistence, I continued studying and became a teacher. At the center I learned sewing, and Maria Luisa proposed me to teach here, this changed my life and improved the conditions of my family. I am a Dominican laywoman and I carry the spirit of the Dominican Missionary Sisters who have given their lives for this town.

I am Mercedes, also a Dominican laywoman. I joined the course for the promotion of women and also at the insistence of Maria Luisa I studied education. She trusted me and proposed me to be part of the center to give classes to the women. Later, she integrated me into the coordination of the Center, a position I have held since her departure, under the advice of the sisters. There is much to say about Maria Luisa, she was a sister and mother to all of us, concerned and dedicated to the good formation of the women, so that all of them would have the opportunity to promote themselves and have a dignified life. She was always concerned about the situation of each one, their problems and sufferings. She was a person with a heart of solidarity and generosity.

I am Ramona and I have many memories of Maria Luisa and above all I am very grateful to her because she taught me to discover my values and abilities, which helped me to prepare myself especially in sewing, and with that I have helped my family to move forward. May God repay her for all the good she has done in this town.

May God repay you for all the good you have done in this town. We could write many other testimonies of the many women that Humbelina has helped to recover their dignity and to recognize and defend their rights.

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