Two women supporting each other at the SOS Social Center…
The SOS community centres in Guatemala are run by mothers from that area. Amparo Donis is one such mother, and this is her moving and triumphant story.
Two women supporting each other at the SOS Social Center in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
The SOS community centres in Guatemala are run by mothers from that area. Amparo Donis is one such mother, and this is her moving and triumphant story:
A huge community house in Belencito in the town of Mixco is painted yellow. The house is a meeting point for children who come to play games and sing songs.
Amparo, who helps to run the "Rayito de Luz" (Little ray of light) community center, is sitting in the centre. She is eight months pregnant: she shyly smiles while a girl sleeps in her arms. After five minutes, she places her in a cradle already prepared with sheets and blankets and goes to another bed, where a baby that is around nine months old needs a clean nappy.
Amparo has two daughters, four-year-old Mayerli and two-year-old Evelyn, and is expecting her third child. "We still do not know if the baby is a boy or a girl, that's why I have not thought about a name," she says timidly.
22-year-old Amparo never imagined how her life would turn out. Originally from a community called Santa Cruz Naranjo, in the department of Santa Rosa, she grew up in a poor family. Therefore, Amparo began working at the age of 17, so she had to give up her studies. With only a diploma from the sixth grade of primary school, she managed to find a job, packing biscuits in a factory. After some months she met Gerardo and became pregnant with her first daughter. After breaking the news to her boyfriend, Amparo never saw him again. Disappointed and sad, she resigned from her job and returned to live with her parents. Months later, she gave birth to a baby girl, Mayerli.
The situation at home with her parents was very difficult and Amparo decided to go to the capital city to look for better opportunities. She lived for a while at her sister Gloria's home, in Belencito, in Mixco. In return for her sister's food and shelter Amparo cared for Mayerli and her baby niece each day.
The days passed and the young woman was increasingly depressed. But then one afternoon, Gloria returned from work and told her sister that community leaders - one of whom was a friend of hers - were making preparations to open a community centre to care for children, and she thought that Amparo could be part of it. Amparo had since met Juan with whom she had a daughter, Evelyn. Juan unfortunately left soon afterwards.
Alone and with two daughters, she knew it was time to think about her life seriously and to set about looking for a job. "I used to wash clothes, I ironed, I did household chores. It's a part of my life that helped me to become stronger, to learn to fight to succeed".
When the community centre "Rayito de Luz" opened its doors in May 2006, Amparo was one of the mothers selected by the family committee to participate as a community mother. She was glad to attend the courses that the SOS family support puts on for community mothers; every day she learned something new to put into practice with the children. "I wasn't scared, I just wanted to keep learning."
In June 2007, in recognition of her dedication, SOS Children's Villages selected Amparo for a scholarship for the nanny certification course offered by the Social Welfare Secretariat. The course educates women on nutrition, special care, first aid and general education for the care of children from birth up to eight years.
Six months later, Amparo is one of the 75 women to have completed the course. It is her graduation day. With tears in her eyes, Amparo holds her diploma and poses for a picture. She is visibly trembling but the satisfaction expressed in her face says it all.
The mothers of children in the community know that these women, who they entrust their children to every day, receive constant training and show dedication to their work.
What Amparo likes most of all about her work is that she cares for little children. And she has experience. Her third child is about to be born and she feels more than ready. The child's father - her current partner - has supported her a lot and he also sees her two daughters as his own. Both are involved in the various services of the SOS family support. Now, with more knowledge, she will begin to plan her future. "I feel that everything is beginning to improve, but I know that I must continue to fight," she says.
The programme of SOS Social Centre Mixco, with a capacity for 530 children. The center offers child minding services so that parents can work on their own buisness and skills and know that thier children are safe. The families participating are organised into family committees that run community homes and childminding centres in community spaces. These community homes and centres are organised according to a community-based self-organisation and self-management approach with SOS Children's Villages providing training and capacity building.
A drawing made of chalk on the street in Children's Village Imst, Austria.
Thank you for your story above, one of the most moving I have read so far in this project. I will keep this short and simple, it is just a picture of children drawing and playing. I love the dusty peach and turquoise, such talented children!