Getting Over Fears

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Mothers in Peru are learning to care for their children without using violence.

We all have those things about ourselves that we don’t like or feel confident about. Sometimes those fears hold us back from God’s calling on our lives—which is why we need each other to overcome these challenges.

For the last two years, Isabel Bernaldo Jara has served as a mother leader in her community of San Juan de Lurigancho, Peru. She teaches other mothers about nutrition, non-violent communication and other information.

But Isabel almost refused to join this good work, because she didn’t think she could do it.

Before Food for the Hungry (FH) started working in her community, she spent most of her time isolated. She grew up in an abusive family and brought those practices into her own home. She couldn’t read or write. She worked selling fruit popsicles for money.

Even though she had a low self-esteem, her neighbors and community leaders spoke well of her. They considered her a very helpful and hard-working mother in the community.

When FH/Peru Staff David Gastelo started working in Isabel’s community, leaders suggested she be trained to be a mother leader. But when David asked her if she wanted to become a mother leader, she expressed fear because of her illiteracy. She saw it as a handicap.


Isabel holding training materials.

David continued to encourage her to be a part of this group, to go through the training for all of the mothers, and to try the first session. She accepted the challenge putting her fears aside, and decided to attend the workshop.

Despite her difficulties with reading and writing, she was the one who paid the most attention at David’s orientation training, learned and memorized everything that was taught, and attended every monthly meeting.

Now, Isabel is participating in her third session, and she is in charge of a group of 15 mothers, whom she visits three times each week in the afternoons. She has learned a lot, thanks to the lessons that she teaches her group.

Although she had an abusive family life in the past, she decided to break that chain, thanks to the violence prevention lessons and the experience of being an FH mother leader.

“The manual taught me not to use violence to discipline my children,” said Isabel. “I always remember the teachings, and I do not hit my children. I have to give an example to the other mothers, because I teach them about these topics.”

David continues to encourage Isabel by visiting her once a week. He helps her to see how the work she is doing is good and to continue teaching the lessons to all of her neighbors. He also answers any questions that she might have, and helps raise her level of self-esteem with encouraging words.

Isabel’s oldest daughter goes to the sessions with her, and is in charge of writing down the names of the people who attended the session on the attendance list.

Isabel is considered one of the role-models in the group of mothers who volunteer. She is admired for her effort and perseverance, despite not being able to read nor write. It is written: “I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13).

This is one example of the how your partnership with Food for the Hungry changes lives to end poverty worldwide.

About Danae Castaneda

Danae Castañeda works as a social communicator for Food for the Hungry (FH) from Lima, Peru. She met Jesus three years ago and starting serving the poor with FH two years ago. Now, she reports stories from the field to help end poverty in Peru.

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