Israel is the youngest of Blanca's four children, and is her first son. The lessons she has learned at the Child Survival Program have taught her how to provide a structured, loving home for her little ones.
Blanca Yé°¥z silently walks to the door of her family's small adobe home in the Toctiuco neighborhood of Quito, Ecuador. She opens the door quietly, careful not to wake her four sleeping children. As she steps into the gray morning, she picks up two rusted buckets by the door and walks briskly down the steep, dusty street. Her mind is already filled with the day's tasks - washing clothes, preparing the bread dough and stew for the evening meal - and before she knows it, she's arrived at the center of town.
The Greatest Gift
Despite the early hour, a long line of women wait to use the community hose. Already, angry words are being exchanged and the exhaustion shared by the women makes tempers short. Blanca's family hasn't had fresh water for a week, so she patiently waits her turn, hoping her oldest daughter will remember to help the younger children get ready for school.
After she fills her buckets, she rushes home, careful not to spill the precious water. She makes it back in time to fix a quick meal of rice porridge for her daughters before they rush out of the door for school. For a moment, the house is quiet as Blanca sits with her son, Israel. His clear eyes search her tired face, and he grins when she whispers in his ear - "You are the greatest gift God ever gave me."
Blanca knows the exhaustion that comes with being a single mother. But because of the Vida Child Survival Program, she also knows the joy of motherhood. When Blanca and her husband separated, she was pregnant with Israel and had no way of supporting herself or her three daughters. She occasionally found work washing clothes, but rarely earned more than $10 a month.
One day, a neighbor, seeing Blanca's desperation, told her about the Child Survival Program. Since being accepted into the program, Blanca has learned not only how to provide a healthy future for her infant son, but also how to raise and educate her daughters who had known only physical discipline at the hands of an abusive father.
"I have learned how to teach my children," says Blanca. "I must dedicate myself more to them. I must hug them and give them the love that their dad has not given them."
"The teach us to value ourselves."
Blanca has also regained the self-confidence she lost to an adulterous, violent husband. The personal attention she receives at the program, along with the friendships she has built with other mothers, have taught her how to be a confident mother.
"They teach us to value ourselves as mothers, and to value our children. They teach us first to love God and to trust Him when you are in trouble. I have learned that I must look for God's help when I am blind and don't know what to do."
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