SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Wednesday is International Women’s Day — a special time for many to celebrate women’s achievements.
According to the United States Census Bureau, over 6% of the Savannah population was foreign-born between 2017 and 2021, with the most common origin being Mexico.
Included in that number is Tilar Alvarado, who moved to the area years ago.
Born and raised in Jalisco, Mexico, Alvarado, grew up with sisters and brothers and found joy in cooking tamales and mole (which is a sauce). She also dreamed of someday becoming an elementary school teacher in Mexico.
However, over time, that changed, and she became a businesswoman in Mexico. On what she loved most about it she said, “Everything. The food, the people, the customers.”
What didn’t change for Alvarado was having a dream, which became to someday live in America.
“For more security. It was not very safe in Mexico. This country (America) didn’t seem scary. In Mexico, yes.” she explained.
Eventually, Alvarado and her husband had the opportunity to turn her dream into a reality and when she came to America, she brought with her what she learned in Mexico.
“In my country, I started a store, I opened a store in my country, and I opened a store in this country.”
That store in America has a name, La Tapatia, which is located at 5548 Ogeechee Rd Unit I in Savannah. Alvarado said she and her husband have owned it for several years and she really enjoys her customers.
“I come to this country, I love work in this country, it’s very, very good for businesses.” she said.
On this year’s International Women’s Day, Alvarado had one message to everyone.
“Thank you for this country, for giving me the opportunity to start my business in this country. This country is very, very good.”
Suzzette Neil from Montego Bay, Jamaica, also reflected on International Women’s Day.
“International Womens Day for me means powerful women reaching out in all avenues of the community in which ever way we can, and just uplifting young girls. As an educator, that is a passion for me.”
Not only does Neil teach 4th grade, she and her husband, Andre, who also worked as a teacher, own Jamaica Taste Restaurant that is located at 2002 Mills B Ln Blvd. in Savannah.
“Savannah reminds me so much of Montego Bay, Jamaica, where I am from. The weather is great, the people are great. Savannah is like home away from home. I love the community, which I’m a part of. I love the children, they remind me so much of Jamaican children also.”
She continued, “The business side of things, I love the diversity of businesses in Savannah, and I love the fact that people are drawn to Savannah to see the beauty that is here, and also to enjoy the good food that is here.”
On the type of message, she would like to leave with the city of Savannah, Neil said, “You’re not boxed in. Even though I am an educator, I am also a business owner, and you can have many branches of your life.”
She also has a message to young women who might still be living in Jamaica.
“To my Jamaican family and young people there, I would say that education is paramount. Put that first, and from that, you can branch out into anything you want to be, anywhere in the world.”
Andre shared his thoughts, “A woman is a leader. All women are considered leaders and me, as a teacher, that is what I told my students. The girls in the class, I said ‘Look, you all are nation builders.'”
Suzzette continued, “As long as you’re educated and you’re focused and you know what you want to do in life, you can go anywhere and shine your light in any country, not just your own.”