“These were the most difficult months because we had to ask for money from other relatives and my mom was going through hard mood changes,” says Rosa. “She was happy and suddenly she was sad or angry. She wanted to commit suicide many times. Sometimes she was so strong that she could carry a refrigerator, and she used to burn our clothes. We only listened to her and said, ‘Easy, Mom, easy.’”
Because of the stigma attached to mental illnesses like schizophrenia, Rosa kept her mother’s condition a secret — not even telling the staff at the Compassion center she attended.
“During those years when my mom was really ill, I didn’t tell a word to anybody because I thought they wouldn’t understand what I was going through. I stayed in silence saying that every-thing was fine, but I knew I couldn’t be silent for long,” says Rosa.
But the letters she received from her sponsor, paired with the kindness the staff had always shown her, convinced Rosa that Compassion was a safe place for her to tell her family’s secret.
“In the letters, my sponsors always told me to show my beautiful smile; they sent me verses saying that everything turns out for good to those who love God; they encouraged me to do my best, to be well-planned. They were really passionate about my life,” says Rosa. “My relationship with my sponsors taught me not to hide my problems but to accept them and get rid of them. So I was released from shyness when I told my sponsors about the problems I had at home. God used them to help me in that way.”
Rosa also told her tutor at the Compassion center about her mother’s illness. The staff reached out to both Rosa and her mother, offering prayers and support. And for once, Rosa and her siblings weren’t carrying the whole burden of the family on their small shoulders.