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Dreams Come True

by Alcida Duenas

I was born in El Salvador, the smallest country in Central America, I grew up in a rural area where there was no electricity or drinking water. Schools and health centers were two miles away, and there were no transportation services.I have one sister and four brothers. I was eleven years old when my parents got divorced; that was the moment my life changed.

As a result of that event, I stopped being a child and I assumed adult responsibilities. I enrolled my two youngest brothers in school, I attended parent teacher meetings, and helped my father with the administrative needs on his farm; I did all of this this without forgetting that I was a student.

In order to attend the school, I walked four miles every day from first grade until I finished high school. I walked through extremely hot temperatures. I promised myself to continue studying in order to get a higher-level education, change my life and help my family. I looked up at airplanes all the time, and imagined myself traveling far away and beginning a new chapter in my life.

At an early age the community was important to me and for that reason since middle school I expanded my vocation to the Health Department, this was a two mile walk away from home. I was exploring a career. I didn’t realize at the time that something inside me woke up; it sparked my desire to learn about health and be able to help my community.

The Health Department staff was friendly and they trained me on how to administer intramuscular injections. After passing all the training, I afforded the ability to help the patients to finish their treatment. This led me to becoming a health promoter in my community.

It became clear I wanted to become a nurse. After five years of studying at University of El Salvador, my first dream came true. In my first job as a nurse I was in charge at a Health Department. There were no doctors at the Health Department and my team was comprised of two RNs and one LPN. When I left that job, I worked as a Nurse Supervisor of a five floor hospital where I took on different roles.

I had many roles including administration, midwife, working as surgeon assistant and many other positions. I was continuing to help my community, who would wait for me on the weekends at my father’s house.

I was satisfied with my profession but not with the salary. My salary was not enough compared to the high cost of living, so I got a second job with UNICEF. Working with UNICEF helped me to get a tourist visa and travel to United States of America. It is here in the USA where I started another chapter in my life. This transition was hard in the beginning when I was unable to communicate, it made me feel mute, but I still felt I made the best decision for myself and my family.

When I came to the USA I had two goals, the first one, was to learn a second language and be able to work in the healthcare field. The second one was to have a baby. I was at an age where I wanted to have a baby. I successfully got pregnant twice that resulted in miscarriage. Through the pain of these events, I could never get a satisfactory explanation as to why or how this could happen from the physician.

I never figured out the reason for the pregnancy loss, because all the tests were normal. I advocated for myself and I requested a hormonal treatment for the first ten weeks of pregnancy and that treatment worked. Nobody checked my hormonal levels and finally I was able to have a healthy boy.

When I look back to many years ago, I remember that little girl who dreamed of a better life, more opportunities, being able to help her family, having a hunger for knowledge, and working with the community.That little girl still hopes and believes “dreams come true”, I know this because that little girl still living inside of me.