Bipeds of Brookland: Iluminada Sanchez
Iluminada Sanchez came to United States with her son from the Dominican Republic in 1995 after her husband. She and her husband were both lawyers but “in my country the economic situation was not good and we had a plan to make our life better. That’s why we decided to come here.”
In her first year, her daughter was born prematurely and she could not work, so she stayed home to care for her children. Her family moved into a transitional housing apartment at the nonprofit Mary House in Brookland, and Iluminada helped organize and distribute donations of clothing for families while living there. She is now on the board of Mary House. “I will always be grateful to them because when you come to another country, it is difficult. I was afraid, because in my country I had my family around me but here I don’t.” She was referred to the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) which helped her family secure a loan to buy a house in the neighborhood.
She later worked as case worker at Mary Center in NW and saw many situations of abuse. “Parents told me in some cases at daycare, children were abused by someone taking care of them, and I said, ‘Maybe I could start a daycare in my house.’ So I did all the classes and completed the process for the daycare license and opened ‘Mundo de Fantasias Child Development’ in my house in 2006.”
When some of the children she cared for left to start school, she needed to fill their space. “One of the mothers wrote on the list serve that I had space and there were more than 60 emails asking me for the space.” Iluminada is proud that her own children are studying in University and will finish next year.
Bipeds of Brookland: A weekly series introducing the people who make Brookland their home, one step at a time. Interview and photo by Tom Sabella.