ALMA: Fleeing danger to a new life in the U.S.

Updated: Apr 15, 2021

Violent crime was a daily reality for Alma in her native El Salvador, and she lived her life looking over her shoulder—at times even accompanied by a personal guard. She could not envision a future where she would be able to live independently or without fear. And so, as a young woman in her 20s, Alma made the brave but difficult decision to leave her family behind and emigrate to the United States.

Alma spoke no English but was determined and unafraid of hard work. A friend of the family helped her to find her first job, and she set about learning English, saving money, and establishing a new life for herself.

After years of restaurant work, Alma pursued a credential to become a Certified Nursing Assistant, and she currently works as a CNA at Riverside Doctors Hospital. Alma sought the help of Literacy for Life because she knew she would need to improve her English, reading, writing and math skills in order to continue advancing in her career. Currently, Alma meets with LFL tutors to study English and math for the Virginia Placement Test. Her goal is to attend Thomas Nelson Community College to study nursing.

Alma is nothing if not brave, so the staff at Literacy for Life was surprised recently when we asked, "How are you?" and she replied, "Nervous!" Her son’s teacher had asked her, in her role as a healthcare professional, to make a presentation to students at Lafayette High School about personal hygiene and preventing the spread of flu. This will be Alma’s first experience public speaking in English. Although she is nervous, she is flattered that others have confidence in her, and she is grateful to her tutors and the community for giving her the opportunities that have brought her to this point.

There is, perhaps, no greater reward at Literacy for Life than seeing our learners advance to the point where they can share their gifts with our community. Thank you, Alma, for your service to as a health care professional and as a guest speaker in our schools!

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