By Susan Cotton, Executive Chair
As we prepare to launch The Lily Project later this month (Mission: To deliver preventive health care to women in rural Nicaragua reducing the number of women newly diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer 30% by 2020) I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet with a quite a number of potential partners, donors and supporters. As I’ve shared our story, the most common reaction I’ve received is ”I honestly had no idea…” about this cancer, its prevention and why the work we are doing in Nicaragua is so important. To do my part for Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, I will be sharing information with all of you, with the hope that this knowledge will spread and do good things.
#4: The Lily Project Blossoms in Nicaragua
The Lily Project is a direct result of the commitment and compassion of a young woman, Aniekla Medina Escoto. Anielka’s mother, Azucena, lived a life fairly typical of women in rural Nicaragua - a mother by 16, she was raising seven children on her own by the age of 25. Not able to find work in their village, she took a four-hour bus ride to Managua, where she cleaned homes and cared for children of wealthy families, returning back to her family just every other weekend. But she was determined that Anielka and her siblings rise above their life of poverty and pushed Anielka to study hard and go to school. Azucena passed away from cervical cancer at the age of 48 – just days after Anielka graduated from high school.
Anielka went on to obtain a scholarship, study, and receive training at the National University of Nicaragua in cervical cancer prevention and upon graduating last summer, Anielka, Jonathan Butcher and I started The Lily Project in honor of Azucena (‘Lily’), with a vision of the day when every woman in rural Nicaragua can enjoy a long and healthy life through access to proactive, preventive health care. Over the last few months we have built our foundation:
During the last month we have worked with the town’s leader, Ivania, who has organized and mobilized women, and even a few men, to prepare the community. Ani reports that The Lily Project has created quite a bit of buzz in Miramar – with most of the excitement due to what we believe are the unique benefits of our approach:
On a personal note – I am very proud to be part of The Lily Project, inspired by our mission, pleased about our progress and excited by our future. If Azucena were alive today, she would be about my age – and I believe it is my privilege to help her strong leader-daughter accomplish great things in her name.
To learn more about The Lily Project, please visit Thelilyproject.org.