Growing a Mother’s Confidence

5706pre_7f0279fe979c544When you feel like you can’t learn, you feel imprisoned. That’s how many mothers feel living in poverty. They feel cut off from the possibilities of reaching beyond their situation.

One mother who lived in Toro Toro in Bolivia really felt stifled. Her name is Zenobia.

Married to a man named Carlos Choque and the young mother of two boys, Zenobia struggled in poverty and had dropped out of school as a teenager.

Living in Toro Toro was hard. Most farmers grew only potatoes or peanuts, so there wasn’t a variety of food for nutrition. The majority of the children growing up there were malnourished, many not living to see age 5.

When Food for the Hungry (FH) came to Toro Toro in 2011, FH staff asked women to help their children grow up healthy. Women like Zenobia—but first staff had to convince most of them that they could learn.

“For me, I was fearful that I couldn’t learn the health themes that they taught us, or put them into practice,” said Zenobia. “Just like the other moms, I didn’t know anything about the importance of maintaining our children’s health.”

In addition to this fear, Carlos was unsupportive of her taking these classes. He didn’t show confidence in her abilities when she participated in the training workshops and nutritional checkup activities in the community.

But over time, with lots of encouragement and walking with Zenobia and other mothers through their fears, a group of mothers were trained as community health agents. They had knowledge about what a nutritious diet looked like, how to identify signs of illness and other information to help children get healthy starts to their lives.

Now Zenobia is 22 and her two children, Alexander, age 7, and Abel, age 4, are developing healthy brains and bodies to pursue a life beyond poverty.

Carlos is now supportive as he’s seen a difference in his children, going from lethargic to energetic and alert. He understands that it’s important to work alongside Zenobia and help care for the lives of their children, just as he cares for himself.

Zenobia is active and responsible with the activities of the health program each month to help mothers and children in Toro Toro. She provides orientation and makes home visits to children who suffer from malnutrition.

And one exciting change has happened in Zenobia … she now has confidence in herself and her ability to learn. She is studying to finish high school and has goals to become a professional to earn more income.

Instead of feeling stifled, she now sees that she has the ability to create change and pursue her dreams. “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as a community health agent and to serve others,” Zenobia says.

This is the kind of difference partners like you are making in the lives of women all around the world!

About Renee Targos

Renee is a former journalist and editor for national arts and business publications. As a writer for Food for the Hungry, Renee explores and reports on the work and relationships of partners, FH staff and impoverished communities.

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