She didn’t know how she would raise three children alone, but she knew they had to leave if they were going to survive.
Eridania’s life was never easy. Her mother died when she was 8, and her father wasn’t around much. Eridania got pregnant with her daughter, Erica, at age 15 and married the child’s father. The marriage didn’t last. She remarried and had two sons, Alexander and Angel, with her new husband. But he began beating Eridania in front of the children. Alexander begged her to leave him, and she finally gathered the courage to flee with her children.
The domestic violence that Eridania’s children witnessed had repercussions. Ten-year-old Alexander was aggressive toward other children, sometimes getting into fights at school. But it wasn’t only Alexander. Carmen Rosa, Alexander’s Compassion tutor, and Roberto Peña, pastor of the church that runs Alexander’s Compassion program, witnessed widespread hostility and violence in the community. So they made it a priority to change that culture.
Pastor Roberto holds a master’s degree in psychopedagogy — a mix of psychology and pedagogy, the discipline of teaching. He created an anti-violence program and began counseling sessions with sponsored children and parents, including Alexander and Eridania.
“We took about six months trying to help them change their attitudes,” Roberto says. It worked. “There is a complete change in the classroom. … they can understand violence and the damage it can produce in them and among them.”
Carmen says she’s seen a transformation in Alexander as a result of the program. Eridania agrees, explaining that her entire family has adopted healthy ways of dealing with emotions instead of shouting and fighting. Having peace in the household has eased stress for Eridania, who works hard just to feed her children.