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Sisters with California’s Providence in the Desert offer English classes, friendship

Martha Arrendondo is improving her English with help from Providence in the Desert

Martha Arrendondo is 46 years old and has been in the United States for 26 years. She works in the grape fields in and around the Coachella Valley in California. Right now she is looking for a better job, and she knows that improving her ability to speak English would help.

Martha says she speaks English so-so: “muy poquito” [a very little bit].

About six months ago, Providence in the Desert, a group run by three Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, went to Martha’s home in St. Anthony Trailer Park in rural Mecca and began offering the residents, most of whom are immigrants to the United States from Mexico, free English-as-a-Second-Language classes in their trailer park.

Martha and many other residents jumped at the chance and have been attending the classes twice a week in the evenings since.

“I like the class because I am learning more,” Martha said.

The beginning English class at St. Anthony Trailer Park in rural Mecca, California, poses with Providence in the Desert Founder Sister Carol Nolan, SP, second adult from the right standing.

“We believe we render real service to people by teaching them in the proximity of their homes. People come in and they are so tired! But they can make it to the class,” said Providence in the Desert founder Sister Carol Nolan.

With a mission of love, mercy and justice and backgrounds in education, the three sisters have traveled from Indiana to California over the past nine years to teach English to some of the poorest residents in the United States.

“I know there are poor all over the country, but these people are really very poor. And they are very near some of richest areas in the country. They are marginalized. People keep saying they need to learn English, they need to learn English, but they have no idea how hard it is to learn English,” Sister Loretta Picucci said.

“Besides the language, I think we help them with their sense of self-esteem. They want to be able to go to school and talk to their kid’s teacher, they want to be able to go to a doctor and speak in English. And this is what we do, we help them with that. To help the parents is to help the children. We help both to be better,” Sister Loretta said.

For more information about Providence in the Desert, visit www.ProvidenceintheDesert.org or call 760-347-3937.

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Amy Miranda

Amy Miranda is a Providence Associate of the Sisters of Providence and a staff member in their Mission Advancement office. Amy is a 1998 graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She currently manages the SP publication HOPE and works on marketing support for Providence Associates, new membership and Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.

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