Good morning. My name is Aida Ruiz-Batiste and I work at the Baystate Brightwood Health Center/Centro de Salud. Brightwood Health Center is located in the poorest community of Springfield known as the Northend. I have the privilege of working with the whole life cycle, from infants to elders. I love working across generations in this community on a broad range of issues, from the medical and psycho-social aspects of life, to advocacy and community development.
I am a mother of 4 children, 2 biological and after my sister died of AIDs in the early 1990’s, I raised her 2 children as my own. I have three grandchildren. I was a very young mother and had my first son at the age of 14. I suffered from post-partum depression.Not only was I young and unaware but I was also very alone, afraid and many times discouraged. As I matured and my life came together, thank God, it became clear that my purpose is to provide help and support to the Latino community, to those struggling in poverty. This purpose takes many forms, professional, volunteer and personal.
When I was introduced to MotherWoman, I quickly saw how this amazing model of support could benefit the women and families I work with. This could be one of the solutions I have to offer the local Latina community. It provided me with a new way to serve the Latina teenage mother. I took the MotherWoman Group Facilitator Training in the fall of 2009 with my colleague Donna Jackson Kohlin, a nurse midwife at Brightwood Health Center.
MotherWoman has touched one of the most profound and sensitive parts of my being a woman. Through MotherWoman, I learned that we really, really do have permission to be women, to suffer and also recover through a miraculous partnership of support that says, “I will meet you where you are without judgement or fear” and for that I thank MotherWoman!
Mothers and grandmothers are the center of the Latino family. These matriarchs hold their families together by loyally supporting each other and sharing their resources in the face of many difficulties, often as single parents. They believe in family and are willing to work multiple jobs and share childcare to secure a healthy environment for their families.
Many people assume that Latinos are Latinos. But we have two separate latina communities in Springfield, immigrant women and Puerto Rican women who are citizens of the united states by birth. Great disparities and animosity exist between these two communities due to fear and often misconceived notions around citizenship and culture. Sadly, prejudice exists everywhere.
Immigrant woman and families make a commendable sacrifice, leaving their native country, language and culture to the come to the unknown and the cold northern winters with the hope of providing a better life for their children and grandchildren. In many ways they are like every other wave of immigrants to the U.S.
My vision is to bring a MotherWoman support group to Latinas in the North End of Springfield, to establish a place where women can share their humanity and experiences as mothers and find common ground. I see this powerful support group model as a way to help break down prejudice, enhance resourcefulness and create stronger community among immigrant and native Latina women.
We are all in this together.
Understanding this makes us stronger and builds our bonds with each other. Starting a MotherWoman group in Springfield will be a step for my community of latina women toward sustainable support, health and viability.
Thank you, MotherWoman, for giving me this opportunity.