ISABEL ROMERO CRUZ
Nahua Founding Partner, Yolki Ino Yolo
Community of Santa Ana Tzacuala, Acaxochitlán, Hidalgo
Soy como la tierra
Que siempre está activa
Se sobrecalienta al trabajar tanto
Sin embargo, contaba con un poco de hielo
I was one of four children, and we lived in my grandparents’ house. I was left alone when my parents separated from my grandparents. My mother would go to the river to wash and she would leave me alone under lock and key. So, when they wanted to send me to preschool, I was terrified. I was afraid to go out. I was even afraid of cars. I would only leave when my mom left me outside the classroom door. And, so, I had a hard time getting along with my classmates; I had never spent time with other children before.
Even when my mom dropped me off in the center of town, and I only had to cross the street to the preschool, I always stayed with the girl who sold candy and didn’t go to school because I was really scared and just couldn’t go. I couldn’t even cross one street because I was afraid of the cars…
My parents only spoke to me in Spanish. So, when I entered elementary school, I felt like a freak because all of the other students spoke Nahuatl, and I only understood Spanish. I was excluded, and they made fun of me. I had one friend during elementary school. It was very difficult to feel like I was part of society. While sometimes we say that we are discriminated against outside our communities, well, we discriminate against each other inside too.
My dad was very macho: very, very sexist. He would not let us be on the street. We couldn’t go out. My mom was the one that ran away, she ran to the church. Later, I began to learn the Nahuatl language, and my friends taught me to know the town, because before I only knew the way between home and school.
My parents told me “always think about what you want, what you want to be in life.”
They always asked me “what are you going to study?” And since elementary school, I had thought of studying medicine.
With my younger brother, when he was born, I was 8 years old. My mom got pregnant, and it was a big deal for me because I watched my dad beat up my mom. I mean, she was pregnant. And that made me mad. And then, when my mom was about to give birth, it got really bad. And the health workers said, well, it’s either your mom or the baby. I decided then that I wanted to study medicine.
My mom was a paraplegic, and she told me “let me die.” My dad said, “You want to be a nurse, you’re no good.” And it was very strong to hear him say that I couldn’t, that if he couldn’t do anything for my mom, I couldn’t do anything for anyone else. But then I said to myself, of course, my soul hurts, but I have to get ahead, with or without them. I knew that, although I could not help her, I could help someone else. And, so, I went to study. And I finished my degree. Things changed after this; my community now trusts me.
Before I finished my degree, I was going to get married. We were very excited because he was from my town. He wanted to study medicine, and I wanted to study nursing. We had plans to get married. Then I learned that he had been killed. I fell into a depression. I didn’t want to eat, I didn’t want anything. I didn’t want to finish my degree, do my internship. But [my sister] Mari was there and wouldn’t let me fall. Today I am a nurse and my greatest achievement has been to treat serious patients without the need for a doctor. I’m now up for a promotion to become a supervisor.
When they tell me that I can’t, I always say, “look, actually, I can.” I like to push people, to make them see that we are all equal but also special. My organization [Yolki Ino Yolo] is the essence of each one of us. The fact is that being a woman is to be autonomous; we are now looking for more women to join us to create a more common good. Each one of our stories helps us to identify with being a woman. It gives us courage and power. This is why the struggle is there and, hopefully, we will all go forward.