For the love of life
Supporting young single mothers in Burkina Faso
As soon Antoinette told her boyfriend she was pregnant, he slammed the door in her face. Suddenly, he would have nothing to do with her any longer. And her uncle too, with whom she had been living, simply kicked her out of the house when he learned of her condition.
The 16-year-old found she was completely alone. Fortunately though, the story had a a happy ending. A neighbour told her about the care centre for pregnant women and single mothers run by the Catholic Church in Dedougou. She went to them, sought shelter, and now she can give birth to her baby in a loving, caring and supportive atmosphere.
Antoinette‘s story is far too common a story for many young girls in Burkina Faso. Socially speaking, women very much hang on the bottom rung. Only 14% of so can read or write, and the number of young girls trying to raise one or more children alone is growing. More often than not, the father of their child will not accept any responsibility for it. Most of these girls are already from poor and disadvantaged families, often with no one to care for them. Many are, in fact, orphaned.
When the girls become pregnant, they are thrown out of the house or forced into abortion. Sometimes they give birth to their baby and then abandon it on a street corner. Many are already compelled to sleep on the streets, because they have nowhere else to go. Others may be fleeing from an arranged marriage, of again may have already slid into prostitution.Too many of these girls and young women only end up in prostitution because they can see no other way of supporting themselves and their babies. This is often the start of a vicious circle in which they might also become infected with HIV and end up in a still worse situation than before. It also frequently happens that they become pregnant again very soon afterwards, still further compounding their difficulties. Sadly, some of these young women end up in such despair – they ultimately take their own lives.
The centre for young mothers in Dedougou offers hope and a refuge for many girls and women who have ended up in such desperate situations. Here, they are given support and advice, the opportunity to continue their schooling – or go to school for the first time in their lives. Additionally, they are also given the opportunity to train in a useful skill, such as hairdressing. For many of the girls it may be the first time in their lives that anyone has ever cared for or helped them. They learn what it is to feel valued and to what means to feel safe. They are given the chance to bring their children into the world in the peace and security offered by the centre – resulting in the ability to hope for a better future.
Aid to the Church in Need has been helping for this centre for some time now.
Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we are able to help again this year, with 21,900 CAD.
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