Mothers go to enormous lengths to care for and protect their children to ensure that they grow up healthy, safe, and strong. Because we know their incredible power to impact lives in their families and communities, Food for the Hungry (FH) intentionally walks alongside mothers in more than 18 countries around the world. Our staff equips them to become “mother leaders” empowered to help each other raise healthy children and lead their families in loving and caring for those around them. Some mother leaders become teachers and mentors to younger women. Others are entrepreneurs who use new skills to become savvy businesswomen. But all of them help their children reach big goals!
This Mother’s Day, we at FH want to celebrate the key role that mothers play in helping their children rise out of poverty by sharing one story of a mother-daughter duo whose lives have changed as a result of FH’s work in their community in Guatemala.
An Amazing Mother-Daughter Duo
Evelyn is a sixteen-year-old girl who lives in Río Azul, a community in Guatemala north-west of Guatemala City. She lives with her mother, Tomasa, who has been Evelyn’s sole caregiver for the last sixteen years. As a single mother, Tomasa has always borne the entire responsibility for household expenses like food, clothes, and Evelyn’s schooling. However, because Tomasa is blind, job opportunities in their rural Guatemala community have always been extremely limited. Yet like mothers everywhere, Tomasa has always done her best to provide for her daughter. She runs a local laundry service, washing clothes for people in their community. And ever since she was a little girl, Evelyn joined her mother in doing this daily work. Together, the mother-daughter team struggled to generate income and cover their costs.
In parts of rural Guatemala, poverty, violence, lack of job security, and bad quality of education leave their mark on families. Millions of students cannot read and write. Many never acquire the skills they need to succeed in school and begin successful careers. The struggle to succeed in their education limits the job opportunities available — and with limited access to mental health support or counseling, women like Tomasa and teenagers like Evelyn also have the highest rates of depression and anxiety.
They have no hope.
Just as Tomasa worked endlessly to care for her daughter, even as a young girl, Evelyn also carried a burden. She shared with an FH staff member, “Since I was little, I always wanted to do more to support my mother, but I couldn’t.” As they struggled to rise above poverty, Evelyn shared, “I was sad, worried, and hopeless.” And at times, Evelyn told FH staff, she struggled with understanding the value of her life.
But in the midst of this darkness, God used FH to shine the love and hope of Jesus Christ into Tomasa and Evelyn’s lives.
A Light Shines in the Darkness
FH began community development activities in Río Azul with a focus on health, education, and livelihood projects. And FH staff also began walking alongside Tomasa and Evelyn. They offered reminders of God’s love. When Evelyn shared some of her darkest thoughts with an FH facilitator, the facilitator encouraged her. “God loves you. He has a good plan for you. Place your trust in God, and hope in Him.” Because of this mentorship and support, Evelyn shared, “Many times, I’ve lost the strength to keep going, but now I know that God has always been with me and He is never going to leave me alone, no matter what.”
Through FH, and with support from her mother, Evelyn received a scholarship from FH. This scholarship has allowed her to progress in school to the high school level. Through this support, she says, “I know God is working to help me achieve my dreams, and I can see how he works through different people to bless my mother and me.”
And now, Evelyn has big goals. “One of my biggest dreams,” she shared, “Is to be a doctor, to help people in need, and to help my mother.”
Just as Tomasa has spent the last sixteen years supporting her daughter, Evelyn dreams of improving her mother’s life in the future.
And to Tomasa, seeing her daughter succeed, and receiving school support from FH, has made her thankful. “I am touched,” Tomasa told FH staff, “Knowing that there are good people who help others so that [children like Evelyn] can keep studying and have a better future.”
Hope for the Future
Today, both mother and daughter feel hopeful. But, Evelyn says, she and her mother have more to be thankful for. “What I am really thankful for, and what fills me with joy,” she said, “Is the fact that now I have a better relationship with God.”
Thank God On Mother’s Day
This Mother’s Day, spend some time thanking God for the mothers who make sacrifices for their children. If you are moved by stories of change, learn more about FH’s mission to end all forms of human poverty!
Once Living in Fear: Guatemalan Mother Leader Transforms Community
How a Mom Stopped Violence — With Hugs
Arminda Choque: A Community Mother Leader