A Mother’s Strength and Sacrifice
Shoulder-to-shoulder, we sat with Cecelia on the schoolhouse steps. At thirty-seven years old, she is a mother of six; the youngest, Johnedison, slept swaddled on her back.
The baby, stirred in his slumber as Cecelia told us that the prenatal vitamins helped her feel stronger with her last pregnancy than she had during previous pregnancies, and that Johnedison was born larger than his five older siblings. This time around, she was also able to work while she was pregnant– a particularly meaningful benefit as the family had recently taken out a loan to buy a home in town where educational opportunities are better for Cecelia’s older children.
In the field stretching toward the horizon, the backs of workers arched toward the swaying crops. With light in her eyes, Cecelia pointed out her husband among them. While her husband labors in the field, Cecelia proudly serves as a community health worker, or Qhali. A Qhali holds a position of respect in her village. In this role, Cecelia provides basic medical care and advice to her community, and she is outspoken and passionate about keeping her children, and her village, strong and healthy.
Later in the day, we hiked down the steep, wet mountain to visit Cecelia’s house. Cecelia’s passion for keeping a tidy household was clear. In the garden, she kept small, orderly rows of spinach and lettuce; in the kitchen, an Adobe cabinet sheltered cold goods arranged in a neat row. The goods standing on the shelves were meager: potatoes, bagged rice, a few canned beans. For nursing moms like Cecelia, prenatal vitamins are the only way to access the nutrients she and Johnedison need.
With an expression of hopeful courage, Cecelia shared her dreams that all her children will get a good education and see a better future.