Interview with Flor de Maria by Henry Flores
My name is Flor Maria. I am 74, and I live in Costa Rica.
My father died when I was 10, and my mother took care of me after that. She made sweets, and I sold them. I have 10 children. They live in different parts of the country. Some are married, others are divorced.
Itís difficult to be an aging person in Costa Rica. Our reality is hard. I have seen other elderly women begging in the street, even sleeping there. We aging have much potential. Look at me. I am able. My hands cook rice. I can make beans. I can scrub a floor from one side to the other, but clearly I canít do it all in one day. I have to do a little at a time: one part today, another tomorrow.
I was taking classes in handicrafts when I first met CFCA. I told the social workers about my life, and they said they could support me. They give so much help for those who need it. I suffer from many illnesses, and thanks to CFCA, I receive the medicines I need. As part of CFCA, one feels supported. One feels calmer. They even help me with my school supplies and other expenses.
Returning to school:
I left school when I was 12, but thanks be to God, I returned to school and finished sixth grade at the age of 50. The situation was difficult. Nevertheless, I always wanted to study. I always wanted a degree as a lawyer to defend others.
When I was little, my school had few seats, teachers and everything else. It was very poor. At times, they taught sewing, and they didnít have the materials. They didnít have notebooks. So, I decided to leave school. When I was in school, I remembered doing homework before and after class.
Now, I have returned to school; only now I am 74, and it isnít easy. I remember on my first day of class, one of my daughters said, ìOh, no, Mother. Donít go to school.î I simply did not pay attention to her. I want to do what I want, and I want to learn, to study; to prepare myself.
Going back to school at my age is beautiful. I feel like any other student with a desire to learn and advance. Everyone knows that I have studied, and that I donít want to leave my studies unfinished. Some tell me to drop out of school, but I just ignore them.
School has helped me a lot. I am more alert because they say my neurons have awakened.
Many women attend my school, because they teach many subjects thereósewing, tailoring, etc. I donít have a favorite class because I believe that, for students, all material should be their favorites. I am taking six classes: Spanish, science, English, civics, mathematics and social studies.
Before my tests, I drink a glass of chamomile tea because they say itís good for the nerves. This calms me. I tell myself, ìDonít get nervous. Donít get nervous. God will take care of everything else.î
Sundays, when I go to school, I get up at 5 a.m. I prepare breakfast and lunch. Later, I grab my backpack with my notebooks, and I leave early since I start at 8 a.m.
In the afternoon, around 4 p.m., I go home. I drink a cup of coffee and rest. I do homework during the week. For example, today I have some homework in Spanish. I have to answer the following questions: Who am I? What do I want to be? I am not going to answer much. What I will write is: ìI am Flor de Maria. I am 74 years old. I want to be a lawyer. Granted, this isnít up to me. This is up to God.î
Florís words of wisdom
I want to say to the youth to take advantage of their time in school because it will lead them to better work and higher pay. Your studies will keep you on the good path and keep you away from vices. Donít lose your youth. Donít lose this moment because one day, you are going to want it back like I do now.
My message for the elderly is to study to keep your neurons working, so you donít get Alzheimers!