|   Posted: September 01, 2020

Lesly and baby Sebastian receive the spiritual and physical support they need after joining Compassion’s Survival Program.

Teen Mom Realizes She’s Never Alone

Lesly and baby Sebastian receive the spiritual and physical support they need after joining Compassion’s Survival Program.

Lesly and her baby Sebastian

“People must have thought I was crazy when I got pregnant at 14,” says Lesly. “I felt judged and rejected. Never in my life have I felt so alone and scared.”

Lesly grew up in a small town on Ecuador's coast. Her father abused alcohol and abandoned her at a young age, and her mother worked long hours to provide for her two daughters.

"I remember spending all my days alone when I was a child. Sometimes I ate just once a day because we didn't have food at home, and we had to wait for my mother to arrive at night with something to eat," says Lesly.

At around 8 years old, Lesly was forced to leave school because her mother couldn't afford the expense. She worked the streets selling fruits or vegetables and looking for any opportunity to earn money. At age 14, she met a young man a few years older than her named Leonardo and fell in love.

“I had nothing when I was a little girl. I was completely alone, and at that moment I had found some hope in a person,” Lesly remembers. “Although, unfortunately, everything turned out to be a lie.”

When Lesly found out she was pregnant and told Leonardo, he left town. For five months Lesly suffered in shame and loneliness.

Lesly and her son
Lesly and Johanna

Then she received a visit from Johanna, a tutor from the local church, who invited her to be part of Compassion’s Survival Program. Lesly eagerly accepted.

Johanna began visiting Lesly at home once a week. She knew the difficult situations mothers face in this community and came prepared with encouraging words for Lesly.

After Lesly gave birth to a son and named him Sebastian, Johanna continued to visit Lesly at home. She brought games, books, crayons and puppets to help develop Sebastian’s motor skills. She offered prayer and Bible devotionals to meet Lesly’s spiritual needs.

“I always aim for the mother to not feel alone — to feel supported, understood and loved,” Johanna says. “That is a fundamental task for me.”

In addition to offering spiritual support, Johanna began teaching Lesly how to cook nutritious food for her baby and to properly clean her home to avoid preventable diseases.

"I always tell the mothers I work with that we must all be brave and trust in God. He is the only one who will never leave us," says Johanna.

When it is time to say goodbye, Johanna always leaves a couple of bags of groceries so Lesly and her baby have enough nutritious food for the rest of the week. Once a month, Lesly attends workshops at the church with the other mothers in the Survival Program. Johanna is also teaching Lesly to read and write, and Lesly is learning to read her Bible by herself.

"To me, Johanna is like my second mother. I don't feel lonely anymore. I know that God sent an angel to help me and to protect my baby," says Lesly.

Adding to Lesly’s hope for the future, Leonardo returned to town and found work in a banana plantation. He and Lesly reconciled, and he is gradually helping to support her and their son. Every week, Johanna invites Leonardo to attend church with Lesly to strengthen their relationship.

“My dream is that my son can grow up and be able to study and be a professional. I don't want him to grow up surrounded by mud walls. I pray every day for my son and Leonardo. With God's blessing, in the future I want to marry him and form a stable and blessed family," says Lesly.

Learn more about the holistic support provided to babies and their caregivers in the Survival Program.

Prayer is powerful. Check out these great resources to pray for children around the world.