The Toll of Poverty on Motherhood

The Toll of Poverty on Motherhood

By: Cecilia Yépez, Ecuador Field Communication Specialist   |   Posted: February 01, 2011

Pregnant mother with anemia gets nutritional assistance and treatment for her malnourished baby.
With the help of the Child Survival Program, Glenda is able to give her baby son, Mateo, a healthy start to life.

The community of Mapasingue Este is a poor area located in the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador. It has a high rate of unemployment. Most people have only temporary jobs doing construction, selling goods on the streets, or working as maids.

On the other hand, the mothers of this area endure unbelievable dramas; most of them are single mothers or live with their partners, so there is little stability within their homes and especially for their children.

Glenda is a single mother and currently she earns about $100 per month as a maid. Her partner abandoned her, and now she is solely responsible for bringing up her three children, including Mateo, her 5-month-old baby boy.

Mistreated and Abandoned

For Glenda, a 29-year-old young mother, the life that she has experienced until now has not been pleasant. The father of her two older daughters abandoned her. Four years later, confident that her future might change, she started up a new relationship, from which Mateo was born. Unfortunately, her situation did not change. On the contrary, everything got worse. Glenda was the victim of verbal and physical mistreatment day after day. Scenes full of anguish, pain and violence were an everyday happening, all of them witnessed by her two little daughters.

Hence, in the midst of her pain and uncertainty, Glenda stood up for herself and decided to flee the violence, searching for a job to support her two daughters and a baby on the way. She had one chance only and she took it without hesitating: selling bottled water on the streets of Guayaquil. This meant long, hard hours, running from one place to another in the midst of a heavy traffic in Guayaquil.

Each red traffic light was a good opportunity to walk slowly between cars in order to offer bottled water to the thirsty drivers in this hot coastal city. Occasionally, this meant jumping up on a bus, panting, in order to sell the water, and then jumping down quickly once the traffic light changed. Glenda's tenacity and perseverance were amazing. Despite her pregnancy its challenges, she did not weaken; but instead, she fought to support her family.

A Mother Finds Support and Hope

After all this determination, Glenda finally found a friend who reached out to her when she needed it the most. Through Compassion-assisted center Plenitud de Dios, connected to the Assemblies of God church within her community, Glenda became acquainted with the Child Survival Program (CSP). The doors of the Child Survival Program were open, embracing her with open arms. Glenda became part of the nearly 50 mothers who belong to the Child Survival Program here.

During the advanced stages of her pregnancy, Glenda found out that she was suffering from anemia. The Child Survival Program facilitated the necessary medical screenings and provided her the needed medical treatment. When her baby was detected to be in the incorrect position during delivery, Glenda had to undergo a C-section. After Mateo was born, doctors determined he was highly malnourished.

The Child Survival Program was present in all these difficult stages, providing all the necessary support that this mother required. In Glenda's own words, "The Child Survival Program supported and provided me with special milk, vitamins, diapers and food provisions, because I couldn't afford all that from selling bottled water. I was taking those vitamins and milk because I had anemia. When my child was born, the doctor examined him and found out that he had low weight. He was malnourished!"

Thanks to the entire nutritional support that Mateo received from the Child Survival Program, he has practically recovered his normal weight and has the opportunity to begin his life healthy.

A Healthy Life Full of Peace

Through the Child Survival Program, Glenda receives home visits from a CSP worker who watches over her health and her son's health. The worker also provides Glenda with the opportunity to learn how to become a better mother through specialized training on hygiene habits and early stimulation exercises.

In addition, the Child Survival Program provides Glenda with workshops on skills for life, and with this knowledge she will be able to earn a livelihood on her own. Along with all of this, she is discipled each week.

Thanks to the Child Survival Program, Glenda and Mateo are now experiencing a healthy life, full of peace and hope. Glendas heart is full of gratitude as she expresses, "Thank you so much for the support I have been given & keep helping those who need the most. Thank you so much!"

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