Child Survival Program: Helping Heal the Wounds of Unplanned Teenage Pregnancy

women with children inside home in Bolivia

In the countryside of Bolivia, it’s normal to have your baby at home with the help of relatives or neighbors, rather than going to a hospital. But being only 6 months pregnant, 14-year old Marta wasn’t prepared. She had gone to the hut with her two younger brothers to put her family’s animals away, when she went into labor. Her two little brothers didn’t know how to help. They were scared and cried. Marta had her baby alone in a hut.

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How Do We Introduce Children in Poverty to a Christian Education?

young boy sitting on steps

Many children enrolled at the child development center got their first contact with the Word of God at the center. They had never heard about God, Christ or stories such as the Garden of Eden, Noah’s Ark or Joseph in Egypt.

Transformation is the best word to define what happens with the children during the class. Parents recognize the difference in the way their children behave.

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Letter Writing: Love Has No Borders

Letters are the closest connection that a child can have with her or his sponsor. The donation you faithfully give each month provides the financial support for your child’s development, but your letters provide beyond the material — needs such as love, hope and possibilities.

If poverty had a face, in Brazil it would be the face of a child. According to UNICEF, in 2004 more than 50 million Brazilians were living in poverty — without access to basic needs such as potable water, health care, good nutrition, education — and facing high rates of unemployment and violence.

Nearly 30 million of that number were children and adolescents.

In that same year, 800,000 children from 7 to 14 years old living in these conditions were not attending school, most of them from illiterate families who have no way to help their children in their education. Without encouragement, it is easy for them to just abandon school and start working in order to help their families.

It is an endless cycle as these same children one day will grow up and have their own children.

But there is hope, and your sponsored child knows exactly where to find it. Your sponsored child goes to her or his room, gets an old box full of photos and letters from under the bed, and as this child starts reading a new breath of life fills the heart.

“The letters from the sponsors are very important on children’s social and cognitive development,” says Maura, director of Lar Batista de Crianças child development center.

“Through the letters they have access to another culture and language, learn how to communicate well by speaking or writing, and moreover, they learn about affection and respect. To love and be loved.”

For that reason the correspondence monitor at the child development center also talks with the children about geography and history from their sponsor’s countries.

Luiz is 12 years old and loves getting letters from his sponsors, a couple from Australia.

“I feel that I am a very important person when I say at school that I have friends from another country and we send letters to each other. I also like to know that I pray for them, they for me and God listens to us.”

boy writing at desk


One of Luiz’s classmates at Lar Batista de Crianças is also sponsored, but the 11-year-old boy has only received one letter in the two years he has been sponsored.

“I feel sad and sometimes frustrated. I’d really like to know about my sponsor’s life, such as: Where does she work? Is she married with kids? What are her hobbies? Does she have a pet? Things that my teachers cannot answer for me.”

According to Maura, children get excited when they receive their letters. “They gather together and tell to one another what their sponsors wrote to them. It is a joyful moment for each one of them.” And such a moment is special not only for the children, but for all the people who make this relationship happen.

Marta has been working as the correspondence monitor at Projeto Vilamar child development center since 2000. She says that her job is full of challenges, but she understands she is playing the role of a bridge between two people who love and care about each other.

“There was a specific letter that touched my heart. A sponsor whose wife had passed away wrote to his child telling about his pain. I started crying and also the child … at that moment I understood that even living so far from one another we can feel and share feelings with a friend we love.”

To most of our child development centers’ staff in Brazil, the improvement children show in their behavior is visible from the moment they get sponsored.

“They have to concentrate to write well, which makes them think about what they are writing. They are automatically compelled to learn how to write and read correctly. Also, the fact that they have somebody concerned about their lives also makes most of them avoid bad company, drugs and youth delinquency. They cannot accept disappointing their sponsors.”

In the spiritual area, children recognize that the same Lord they worship in Brazil is worshiped overseas.

Very shy, 12-year-old Maria loves to talk about Jesus with her sponsors, a couple from the United States.

“We used to write about our dreams and day to day. But what I like most is when they teach me new things about God’s word.”

Vitória thanks God for her sponsor’s life –- an 80-year-old lady who loves the 11-year-old girl as her own granddaughter.

“She asked me to call her grandma, and that is exactly how I feel about her. She is part of my life and family, even though we never spoke personally. I care about her letters so much that I have a special place for them, inside a drawer … for me, love has no borders.”

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