MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS:
Petra, right, with three of her daughters from left: Daicy, Heidis and Yeici,
at their home several hours walking from the nearest road.
One of the best ways to measure and appreciate our RECIPE in action is to follow the progress of families from one generation to the next. In one generation, the family in this photograph has jumped from illiteracy to a college education! Their story illustrates just how we work and what we aspire to achieve.
Petra’s mother Vidalina was completely illiterate and had 15 or more pregnancies before dying of untreated diabetes in her fifties. Petra, one of her 10 surviving children, all of whom are illiterate, grew up in a world not so long ago where 14-year-old girls usually became pregnant, and were sequentially pregnant thereafter, commonly not experiencing their monthly menses for years on end. Six or eight children later, when enough offspring had survived infancy, mothers might seek a tubal ligation, the most popular birth control method here in Venezuela. Then waiting years for this elective public health service at the overwhelmed public hospital, they often had even more children in the interim for lack of alternatives.
Petra herself got married unusually late in this culture — all of 24 years old — and 15 years later, when she and her husband Arcadio decided that six children were enough, they came to our Foundation and received a tubal sterilization.
Next, Petra’s eldest daughter Daicy grew up and came to the Foundation for birth control pills when she was an aspiring student in her teens with her first boyfriend. Participating in our reproductive health education program, Daicy understood early on that, unlike her mother, she had the option to be in a relationship without necessarily having a baby. This allowed her to work through what proved to be an unstable relationship, and to complete high school in our rural scholarship program. She is married now, has several children of her own and is attending adult college with our support. She is determined to become a lawyer and is already advocating for student rights! Her husband shares in her choices, and heads one of the local baseball teams that the Foundation supports for students and young adults.
Daicy’s younger sisters Heidis and Yeici have also both finished high school and are now attending college with the Foundation’s support. They also participated in our workshops on reproductive health, which emphasize responsible informed sexuality in order to avoid unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (a growing reality for their generation here). They are well aware of their options and have chosen not to be sexually active for now while pursuing their studies and shaping their young lives.
The Foundation seeks to serve women and families effectively in each of these three stages in their lives — youth, the reproductively active years, and maturity. We are proud of the constructive role that we have played in the lives of Petra, Daicy, Heidis, Yeici, and thousands of other women, helping empower them to take control of their reproductive health and education and to create the futures that they themselves want to have. In a matter of years, in less than one complete generation, the choices for these women have opened tremendously. Both Petra and her husband are completely illiterate, but these young women are not only literate on a high school level, but the first in their family to actually go to college, an enormous step forward. This incremental progress, carried forward over time by many individuals and families, lifts the whole community, which is why we call this coordination of family planning and education our Recipe for a Thriving Community!
We have known and worked with all three of these families (and many more), going all the way back to the grandparents.
We remember these Mothers when they were little girls. We have watched and proudly contributed
to their measurable progress across three generations, now going on four!
Family Planning + Education = Progress !!!