To sacrifice for your child to go to school, but never to be able to help her with homework.
To have to tell your toddler as he begs you to read him a book, “I can’t.”
These scenarios play out for mothers around the world every day. But in the countryside of Bolivia, the problem is amplified by poverty and prejudice. When a poor family in Bolivia can afford to send only one child to school, it is almost certainly the boy. And girls who are taught that the only values they can offer are cooking and cleaning, they grow into women who feel powerless to escape poverty.
These are the women Alicia Alejandro ministers to every day. As the coordinator at the Alto Pagador Survival program, Alicia works hard to teach mothers how to raise children who can have bright futures. Compassion Survival helps mothers learn how to provide a healthy foundation for their children. They learn what foods to feed their children and what activities will develop their minds. A large component of the program is educating parents, and when Alicia first began teaching mothers basic skills in hygiene and nutrition, she sent them home with worksheets and homework.
But half never completed their worksheets.
It was then that Alicia learned that of the 50 mothers enrolled in Compassion Survival, 20 didn’t know how to read.
“They didn’t have any idea what to do,” says Alicia. “They asked me to help them learn to read and write so they could do their homework, and help their children with their homework too.”
Eduarda Zuniga was one of those mothers who had never learned to read or write. She was raised by an abusive stepmother who refused to send her to school. When she entered Compassion Survival with her daughter, Haiti, Eduarda was 35 and did not know how to write her name.
Soon after registering, Eduarda was approached by Alicia, asking if she wanted to join the other mothers who were taking literacy classes.
“I had always wanted to go to school as a child,” says Eduarda. “I was happy that now I could.”