Faith and spiritual growth are among the important parts of life that a mother must teach her daughter, Mirla Flores learned.
Mirla, 40, lives in one of the myriad neighborhoods clinging to the hills just outside of Lima, Peru. She is the mother of two children, Romina, 14, and an 8-year-old son, Samir.
The family was poor, as were their neighbors. Most time was consumed with the struggle for necessities.
Faith, Emotional Needs Were Neglected
“We worried about lack of food and concern that there were no jobs,” Mirla explains. Little energy was left to pursue education or emotional development of the children.
“The daily struggle was to get money. It was what day-to-day life was in our community. That was what we knew we needed to help the kids get ahead.” But Mirla would learn that her children needed more.
“We did try to support each other in the community, but we didn’t know how. Children and teenagers didn’t have the opportunity to develop their skills and abilities, especially girls,” she says. “My daughter Romina was very introverted and withdrawn.”
Mom Felt Helpless
As a mom, she felt vulnerable and saw no solution to helping her daughter and her community.
Mirla began working with Food for the Hungry (FH) when they came to her community in 2014. Romina entered their programs in 2015.
Mirla participated in leadership training and learning positive parenting skills. She also joined a community savings group and participated in leadership training. Her daughter learned dance, painting, and took reading workshops.
Spiritual Growth, Faith Was Missing
“My daughter and I were both helped through the workshops that FH Peru provided to us. It helped with Romina’s education.”
“But while we gained a lot of knowledge, what I value most is what we learned on the spiritual side, that’s what we were missing most. Because only God can help us to become strong people,” Mirla says.
“Not all parents know how to identify their children’s needs and abilities. But this is part of what we learned. Now with FH, every parent here values this experience to be able to help and guide their children.”
Her daughter is excited about the workshops and attentive to her activities, Mirla says. And, as a mom, she is excited too. “Before FH, we had no experience with parenting workshops. This was all new to many of us in the community.”
Programs Unite and Strengthen Women
Since participating in these programs, Mirla and other women in the community talk with each other and “plan transformations we want to make. We have learned to have faith and support each other,” she explains.
“We have built a common purpose. Yes, we have savings groups now, and we are doing much to improve our community. But it is not only about the material side, but also about our bodies and our minds, and especially about the spiritual side. Thanks to FH Peru, these are the things we work on now.
“As a leader, God gives me the strength to fight for basic services and decent homes in my community,” she says. “As a mother, God gives me life and health to support my children and their dreams.”
Continue to read:
How Leading by Faith is Changing Cultural Norms
How You’re Helping FH Share the Gospel
Praying with Kids: Ideas & Encouragement