At the Voice and Christian Thinking Child Survival Program, 48 mothers (eight of whom are pregnant) and 40 children, including Susana and her son, Kevin, are learning the steps of holistic child care.
Susana Paulean's mother taught her only one lesson about parenting: Give up when things get too hard. Before Susana took her first step as a baby, her parents abandoned her. Her elderly grandparents took Susana and her siblings in, but Susana had to drop out of school in the third grade when her grandparents could no longer afford the expenses of her education. As she worked odd jobs to help support her family, Susana began to harbor bitter feelings toward her parents.
At 16, Susana learned she and her husband were expecting their first child. She felt the familiar feelings of anger and resentment coupled with fear. Susana feared that the pressures of raising a child in extreme poverty might be too much for her to handle. She feared she might be forced to make the same choice her own mother made 16 years earlier.
Thankfully, workers from the Voice and Christian Thinking Child Survival Program found Susana before she had to make such a drastic decision. Beneath her anger, they recognized a frightened, confused young woman who could flourish if only she had knowledge and a few simple resources, including medical care and food. Susana was less sure.
"I was so confused," Susana recalls. "I knew that I did not know how to be a mother, but I wanted what was best for my baby. I did not have the money to go to the doctor, and I knew I wouldn't be able to buy clothes or food for my child once he arrived. I thought there was no hope for me."
Despite her self doubts, Susana registered in the Child Survival Program (CSP) just a few weeks before her child was born. In that time, CSP staff worked hard to prepare Susana for the baby they set up doctor's appointments, made sure Susana had food and vitamins, and listened as Susana voiced her fears and doubts.
By the time Susana's son, Kevin, was born, she no longer believed her life would mirror her mother's. The program provided Susana with food and clothing, access to education, and more important, the staff helped her find the confidence that had long ago been buried by poverty and fear.
Once a depressed, scared teenager, Susana is now passing on the knowledge she has learned at the CSP to other mothers in her community. Project staff are helping Susana sign up for a correspondence training program, and she hopes to one day earn her high school diploma.
"CSP has taught me so much," says Susana. "I am excited to learn more and to know how to take care of my baby and be a good mother to him. I want to be able to teach him things. I am so thankful to the CSP, that they taught me so much and are helping me to be a mother."