Santa is from the Dominican Republic. She came to Martinique in 1992 at the age of 19, after finishing her high-school studies, in order to be able to work and advance in life. Her sister-in-law was already installed on the island and had a hair salon.
She started working with her in the hair salon for a number of years and studied French at the university in the evenings. As her language skills got better, she was able to integrate better into Martinican society and founded a family with a local man. Although her sister-in-law and partner were able to help and support her, she didn’t get help from any official instance or organisation at the time and felt like it was a struggle for her to get information. She also felt somewhat discriminated for being a migrant woman.
Eventually she went through a business training and was able start up her own hair and beauty salon in 2003 close to the center of Fort-de-France, the capital town on Martinique. The salon offers hairdressing, manicure, pedicure as well as different beauty treatments and the clientele is both local as well as from the Latin-American community.
She has been running the hair salon ever since and is a well-known figure in the neighbourhood and among the Dominican community, many women come to her for advice and help for different issues. Two years ago, she started an association called FLAM (Femmes Latino-Américaines en Mouvement) to help Latin-American women to integrate in Martinique and develop cultural activities in the neighbourhood of Terres-Sainville where the community and her salon is based.
Her plans for the future are to continue running the salon, continue developing the association and perhaps also to study social work as it has started to interest her more and more.
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