Listen to Joshy's Story:
Why I am here
I have lived for more than 50 years in Nicaragua, my country, that of my mother, the country that showed me inequities, inequalities, stereotypes, discrimination, racism, but that showed me what we need to change.
I grew up in a family of mostly women. They had strong religious convictions, the same convictions that encouraged them to always protect the less fortunate.
My grandmother became the matriarch upon the death of my grandfather; my grandfather died when I was eight years old and that determined my path and that of my whole family: my grandmother, a strong woman with clear ideas of how women should be, took the reins of the family home.
Although the women in my family defined me, they also paved the way for what I did not want to be. I decided I would not get married, that I would not stay at home taking care of children, that I would study whatever I wanted and I decided to leave the city where I grew up, the most conservative in the country.
I decided to live life my way. And yes, my strength was given to me by those conservative women like my grandmother because I decided that I could be strong like her, but in my own way, I decided that women can be ourselves without the need for a man next to us. I am convinced that my grandmother was “liberated” the day my grandfather died.
An old picture of Joshy laughing after getting out of a black car.
That is why I decided to study journalism. One day the book Entrevistas Con La Historia by Oriana Fallaci landed in my hands, where she interviewed famous people, presidents, political leaders, and I decided that I would do the same as Fallaci, I would be a journalist. And I did it. And yes I interviewed famous people.
Fortunately for me, I had a mother with a very different vision than that of my grandmother, who let me fly wherever I wanted. She gave me the best gift I could receive: an education. She pushed me to study, to learn, to know, to dream big, to not stop for anything, she gave me the love of books, to read, to read to imagine, to see
beyond the horizon, to see beyond the color of someone’s skin, she taught me by the example that we women can be strong and survive despite the adversities, sadness, and moments when we are down. My mother taught me how to work hard, every day, to teach her two daughters to go through life with their heads held up high. And although I was the rebel without a cause in my home, a phrase that my grandmother would repeat every time I would go out with my friends without saying where to, I followed every piece of advice from my mother. That was the north star when I had to raise my children as a single mother…Those were years of a lot of hard work, satisfactions, but also many sorrows.
THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO BE OR THIS IS WHAT I WILL BE
An education has been an obligation in my family. And I was no exception. I would have liked to travel the world backpacking, getting to know other cultures, as an avid reader I dreamed of going to Morocco, or Bora Bora. However, that was not an option for my family. At first, because of my friends and family, I chose Business Administration, but studying journalism had always been the first and only option for me.
My mother respected my decision when at the last minute I regretted enrolling in Business Administration. And yes, I took a year off of studying so that I could enroll in journalism the next year, but I decided to work. I found employment as an assistant to a pediatric doctor. For a year, I worked with the fathers and mothers that would come with children to their doctor’s appointments. I earned my own money at 17 years old. That was until I began at the university where my goal shifted. I became a journalist.
Making that decision gave me a greater conscience of my power as a woman, as a person within an unjust society, but also that I could change things because I became an example to my younger nieces and nephews. Seeing their aunt on TV told them that they could do it too. That was my message at the university when I taught classes, all women can reach their goals, we can all break unjust circles, no one can stop us.
Life is unfair a lot of times and although I lived the happiest years of my life in my childhood and adolescence, and I reached my goal of being a journalist, I also experienced my greatest sorrows as an adult.
Joshy sitting on the back of a motorcycle, behind a man, with a camera in front of her face.
Becoming an orphan is a feeling that is never overcome. A plane accident took two of the people in my life that I loved the most: my mother and my grandmother. My children remember their grandmother through photographs.
I’ve always decided things for myself, perhaps this has caused distance with my mother’s family…but I always knew how I wanted to live my life and I have always known that I have rights.
I do not know where that self-confidence came from, but it is that confidence that told me that I wanted to study, when I decided to have my first son despite knowing that my family would shout to the sky as a result, the confianza to work in such a competitive field like Television, and the certainty that my mother would always support me despite the criticism from my own family. She gave me the strength and the confianza to get to where I wanted to get to. My mother separated from my father for reasons which are still unclear to me, but she knew that she no longer wanted to live with that man and chose her daughters first. That was a lesson when I chose to do the same. I decided to choose safety and not live with domestic violence as something that was normal, I did not think about it much. I have not regretted even for one second of my life making that decision. I did it for my children, my two big reasons to live.
Old picture of Joshy and her two sons sitting on steps in Nicaragua.
Being a mother at 21 gave me a new perspective and helped keep me grounded to be better. I became the pillar for my home, something I learned from my grandmother, that strong and bossy woman who decided the destiny of many in my family, with authority, but with a lot of love, and that is the example I gave to my children. My sons know of the strength we have as women, as mothers, because they saw a single mother, and I do not like saying that word because it was my choice, working and studying hard to reach her goals. And also doing everything in the home. That is the strength we have that oftentimes we ourselves are not conscious of. I spent years working day and night, from day until night, barely being able to see my children all week, sometimes not even during the weekends and even so I was still in charge of my home and my life.
Don’t think everything in life is rose-colored. I spent years fighting with the father of my children so that he would take responsibility to raise the children in a way which promoted equity. But that is another story, Volume II.
WHAT ARE WE?
We are the sum of many things, of loves, disappointments, joys, friendships, family. I have experienced events that are painful and some that are spectacular too. I suffered domestic violence, a fact I can now share because it definitely made me stronger, it indicated the path I did not want to take, that of statistics, and most importantly it helped me commit to believing the reports of domestic abuse victims. In Nicaragua, around two women are killed by their partner each week. The majority of these women who experience domestic violence do not report it, and when they do, the state does not protect the victim.
Old picture of Joshy and her two sons in front of a landscape in Nicaragua.
Giving a voice to women to report their aggressor is the duty of all women. I believe in that and I believe in believing in them.
WHAT DID WE COME TO THIS COUNTRY FOR?
When my sons came to this country, with the privileges it entails, part of my heart came with them. They came
prepared, prepared to be complete individuals. I taught them that chores around the house are not a woman’s job, they’re everyone’s job. Washing, ironing, cooking and working hard was something they learned as children and not for me but rather so they can be the real companion someone wants. That is equity for me, no one above anyone. I am proud of the men they have become.
I was born in this country a handful of years ago, but my country is Nicaragua. I am Nicaraguan from head to toe.
Three years ago I decided to come back to this country to be close to my sons. I left half of my heart and part of my life in that suffering country that is Nicaragua, that currently lives under a dictatorship. Now I can’t even go back to Nicaragua, my country, but that’s another story, volume III.
Joshy’s sons as adults in the United States.
WHEN WE DISCOVER THE STRENGTH WE HAVE
God does things in mysterious ways, because I never imagined working with Latino communities. As a reporter for many years I was able to get up close and personal with the most remote communities in Nicaragua, the most impoverished, the most affected by the inequities of countries sunk by corruption and violence. Despite living in poverty thanks to corrupt politicians, those people living in those communities are also the strongest people I know. As Latinos we have survived a lot. That’s why I know I am in the right spot at the right time.
I believe in the strength of the Latinos and Latinas to overcome obstacles, to get out of setbacks and to turn tears into smiles.
Joshy and a family in rural Nicaragua.
To be a Health Promoter, to be a part of this Latino community in Wisconsin is a reason to be proud for me. I am privileged to be part of this great community of men and women that work hard, day and night to get their families ahead. I have met spectacular women, strong and secure, joyful, always with a smile, always with a kind greeting, taking care of their families, going to work in the terrible Wisconsin cold so that they can pay their bills each month, cook each day, raise their boys and girls, be a pillar for their homes and be happy.
For a year now we have worked outside with Latino communities on the topics of vaccination and COVID but also speaking to men and women about the rights we have as Latinos in this country. A paper or lack thereof does not invalidate universal rights. We have preached and taught through example. We Health Promoters are an example of how a woman’s life can change, empowered by what she wants to do and what she can change.
That is why I believe in education as a fundamental core for changing the lives of women and families. The topic of sexuality, a taboo still in many countries and homes, is something that should be discussed always especially in Latino communities to get rid of machista culture, empower women to take control of their bodies and their decisions and to learn how we can change this culture of subjugation of others over women. Deciding whether or not I want to have children, if I want to have an abortion or if I want to have a partner, are issues that we women learn when we discuss and include the topic of REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE in our daily lives, a concept I learned as Health Promoter. That is why I’m here.