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    Wednesday, November 20, 2019-4:37:39P.M.






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Domestic violence survivor is 2019 Live Your Dream award recipient

DORINA Castro, a survivor of domestic violence, is this year’s recipient of the Soroptimist of the Northern Mariana Islands’ Live Your Dream Award.

Dorina Castro is this year’s Live Your Dream award recipient. Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

She received the award during the Soroptimist NMI’s sixth annual Live Your Dream gala held in the Hibiscus Hall of Fiesta Resort & Spa on Saturday evening.

“Soroptimist International is a global organization of volunteers,” Soroptimist NMI president Donna Krum said. “We are all about bettering the lives of women and girls around the world through our…programs.”

She said their “Live Your Dream” program provides a monetary award to a young woman who is in school and is a financial head of the household.

“What we know is when we keep women in school, we can change lives and communities,” Krum said.

“Education is every woman’s way out. When you educate a man, you have an educated man that takes care of his family and their career. When you have an educated woman, you change the life of that woman, her family and the whole world.”

Dorina Castro was one of the seven women who applied for this year’s award.

Krum said all applicants had to go through a simple process of filling out forms and writing an essay.

Three judges selected the winner based on the submitted essays.

This year’s judges were Pacific Islands Club general manager Gloria Cavanagh, IT&E director of network operations and engineering Velma Palacios, and Northern Marianas College human resources director Polly Masga.

In her remarks at the awarding ceremony, Castro recounted how she ended her abusive relationship with her partner.

“He isolated me from my family and had nowhere to go. I was on the phone with Selena, who had worked with the Domestic Violence Intervention Center. This was my chance to leave, as I told her that he was gone and I was alone with my children at the house,” said Castro, who was advised to get ready as personnel from the center would pick them up.

She said she and her children lived at the Guma Esperansa shelter for six months until Karidat informed her of the Get Home program, which provided them with an apartment and daycare expenses.

“Everything fell into place. I got my first job as a special education teacher aide at the Public School System,” Castro said.

In June 2018, she received her associate’s degree from NMC. “I was standing there on graduation day. I was in tears.”

She vowed to obtain a bachelor’s degree. She told herself: “I’m going to be that person wearing that black gown soon. I want to be a counselor, helping inspire women and girls who have been through domestic violence.”

She added, “I [faced] several challenges on my way here, but each and every one of them has only strengthened me to make me the person I am today.”

She thanked Karidat, the Family Court, the Domestic Violence Intervention Center, and the Get Home Program for helping her. “If none of these programs were available for women, I would still be in a violent domestic situation.”

She said all women who are still battling domestic violence “can still recover — it is hard…but you can find courage, determination and commitment in pursuing your dreams once again.”

She thanked Soroptimist NMI for giving her the award. “This award will help me [reach] my educational and career goals.”