Maria Teresa is able to care for her baby girl, Hope, thanks to Compassion's Child Survival Program.
Maria Teresa was a hardworking mother of four. When her husband left, she took on laundry work and sold fish to feed her growing children. Although in deep poverty and hardship, she thought life was not so bad until she was raped. She became pregnant with an unwanted child.
A few months earlier, Maria Teresa began attending a Bible study in her neighborhood. It was conducted by the Timbercity Foursquare Church in Butuan City, a Compassion partner church. She learned that Timbercity Foursquare was planning to open a program called Child Survival Program (CSP). She thought it sounded like a very good program and wondered if she would qualify.
Seeing the Need
In May 2008, Compassion Philippines conducted a CSP ministry presentation in Butuan City and Cagayan de Oro City, two major cities in Mindanao. According to the country's human development index (HDI), these cities were deep in poverty and had seen many infant deaths due to preventable illnesses.
In August, Maricel, a CSP specialist, visited Butuan to see the community firsthand. She asked many questions such as, "Is there an evidence of need? Is the church capable? Do they have the necessary facilities? Are their workers faithful?" She met with church leaders and with several would-be CSP mothers.
In September, the CSP specialist wrote Timbercity to tell them that they were chosen to implement the program. According to Gulapa, "Timbercity was an easy choice."
Providing Hope in the Midst of Desperation
A few months later, Timbercity was prepared to start a Child Survival Program. Initially, 500 mothers applied but the program could take only 40. The church interviewed all the applicants, investigated their family conditions, and visited their homes. When they were about to register Maria Teresa, CSP guidelines suggested that she lived too far from the church, which could disqualify her. But the country office allowed her to be registered, anyway. Maria Teresa was number 40 on the registered list.
Maria Teresa gave birth in November to a beautiful baby girl. She named her Hope. "I love her," she says, "I planned of having her adopted by a friend, but after I gave birth and saw her, there's just no way that I can give her up. I love her and care for her."
PH-CS23 Timbercity Child Survival Program officially opened on Feb. 1, 2009. On Feb. 5, all 40 mothers and their babies proudly paraded around the city on a pedi-cab motorcade. City doctors, government officers and the media were invited to witness the center's inauguration.
As guest speaker, Noel Pabiona, country director for Compassion in the Philippines, explained, "Opening a CSP is very much like giving birth to a child. The process is long and painful, but the reward is all worth it."
Next to speak was Maria Teresa.
The Outcome of Love
Beginning to speak in English, she thanked the church for including her in the program. She soon broke into tears as she talked about being a victim of rape and then having Hope. "I was determined to give my child away. I was so desperate that in fact I even considered abortion or suicide." Her voice cracked. "Now I am very happy to have her. I love her." The church overflowed with tears.
Today the church is very happy with how the Lord is using PH-CS23 Timbercity Child Survival Program. Regarding Maria Teresa, the CSP coordinator hopes "to present to her several IGPs (income-generating programs) so that she can somehow earn an income."
Maria Teresa now says, "Before, I just cry when problems come my way ... Now, I think I can see more clearly."
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