|Families: Supporting, not substituting mothers as educators|
"She told me: ‘I have the perfect job for you.’ There is no perfect job, but there are circumstances through which a mother can get back onto her feet, thanks to being looked at in a new way, and begin to support others in their path of maturity.”
Amparito Espinoza describes the story of her own life and the work she does with AEDI (Acción Educativa Integrada), an AVSI educational program that benefits more than 1,600 children and their families in Quito, Ecuador, where Amparito is from, as well in the area of Portoviejo.
“I had just gone through a very difficult moment of my life: the loss of my son, who suffered from a congenital heart defect. It was the hardest thing that could happen to me; he was gone forever and I had been completely destroyed, with no will to live. One day I received a call from Sister Anna, who told me: ‘I have the perfect job for you.’ I was not astonished, because she was constantly inventing things to keep me busy, so that I wouldn’t be sad. I went to the interview, and in that little room, I saw a red-haired lady with a sweet smile and bright eyes; that was how I met Stefania Famlonga, AVSI Country Representative in Ecuador.
“I began to get involved working with AVSI on November 1, 2004, participating in PelCa (Prescolar en la Casa): a program of early childhood education for children from 0 to 5 years of age living in challenging rural or urban environments with the aim of supporting mothers in their educational task. The goal is to strengthen the educational role of parents, particularly mothers, by providing training and basic tools to favor their children’s all-around development. The central idea is that only beginning with education can a people become free again in the face of difficult situations.
“After a while, I began to go with Stefania to visit the homes of the families involved in the project. Gradually, I became aware of the needs, the suffering and the sadness of many of the mothers whom we visit, and this has filled the huge void that was left by the death of my little one. This work has made me grow so much as a woman and as a mother, and up to today the greatest responsibility I have is still to communicate to the new educators what I have first received over these years.
“In the time that has passed, we have seen the mothers become more and more the protagonists of their own lives; some mothers involved in the program now work for AVSI, having been recognized for their strong sense of maternal responsibility. You can see how much it is possible for a person to be changed when someone looks at her in a new way.
“It’s not enough that someone teaches you to do a job, but you need to be accompanied along the road you must travel; you need people who support and stay with you for your whole life. This is what you get when you find a friend or community of friendship.”
“All this helps a mother to become more aware of the hope that lies in her children, and that they have a heart like her own, which is always seeking truth and happiness, as evidenced by the words of the mother of Efren, a child involved in PelCa:
‘Only if we, as mothers, help our children to discover the beauty and love of all that exists can we also motivate them to study not only for a good grade but for something greater.’”