In Latin America, every year 370,000 children die before their fifth birthdays, mostly from preventable causes. But thanks to Compassion's Child Survival Program in Peru, Maria, shown here with her baby daughter Nicole, learned how to care for her young child, allowing the infant to thrive.
At the Forjadores de Esperanza Child Survival Program in Peru, love is contagious.
"You receive plenty of love and tenderness," says Maria, who was enrolled in the program when she was pregnant with her daughter, Nicole. "The program workers are like the mother I didn't have."
Love is something Maria says she sorely missed growing up. Her father died when she was young. Her mother, the quiet type, didn't really communicate with her. Her family, Maria says, lacked harmony.
A Desperate Life
At 17, when Maria learned that she was pregnant, her mother turned her back on the teenage mom. Forced to leave her mother's house, Maria moved with her husband, the baby's father into a small rented space. Unfortunately, his wages were not enough to provide sufficiently for Maria and unborn Nicole. The couple was alone.
When Maria, desperate, without means even to buy food, found out about the Forjadores de Esperanza Child Survival Program, she immediately applied for help.
Child Survival Program Rescues the Family
In addition to receiving adequate supplies of nutritious food at Forjadores de Esperanza, Maria learned about childbirth and how to care for a newborn. When her daughter was sick in the hospital after birth, program workers came to support her.
Since her daughter's birth, Maria continues to receive support, education and help with her newborn. She also attends regular meetings at the program center where, along with the other mothers, she is taught how to provide a nurturing home environment for Nicole, as well as how to stimulate her child's natural development and growth.
Maria and Nicole also receive timely immunizations and regular medical checkups and assistance as needed. But more than the practical assistance, Maria appreciates the unconditional love and compassion she and Nicole receive while in the program.
Unconditional Love: The Greatest Benefit
Once a week, Maria, like all mothers at Forjadores de Esperanza Child Survival Program, receives a home visit from a project worker.
"She teaches me how to be a good mother. Once when Nicole was in the hospital with a high fever, she even went to pray for her. She teaches me to trust the Lord, even in difficult times."
And Maria is passing on the love to her daughter. In fact, when asked about the most important benefit she receives through the program, Maria says, "The love they transmit to us, because through them, we learn to love our children. I love my daughter very much."
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