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, in whose home she had been living, simply kicked her out of the house when he learned of her condition. The 16-year-old found herself completely alone. Fortunately, the story ended happily. A neighbor told her about the care center for pregnant women and single mothers run by the Catholic Church in Dedougou. She was able to seek shelter there and can now give birth to her baby in an atmosphere of loving care and support.
Antoinette’s story is common to many young girls in Burkina Faso. Socially speaking, women are very much on the bottom rung. Only some 14% of them can even 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 the 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 orphans. When they become pregnant, they are thrown out of the house or forced into an abortion. Sometimes these girls give birth to their baby and then abandon it on a street corner. Many of them are already compelled to sleep on the streets, since they have nowhere else to go. Others may be fleeing from an arranged marriage, and others may have already slid into prostitution.
Many of these girls and young women end up in prostitution because they can see no other way of supporting themselves and their baby. This is often the start of a vicious circle in which they then become infected with HIV and end up in a still worse plight. It also frequently happens that they become pregnant again afterwards, further compounding the difficulties of their life. And sadly, some of these young women end up in such despair that they commit suicide.
The center for young mothers in Dedougou offers 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 to go to school for the first time in their lives – and the opportunity to train in a useful skill, such as hairdressing. For many of them, this is the first time in their lives that anyone has ever cared for or helped them. Here they learn to feel valued and safe and can bring their child into the world in peace and security and start to look towards a better future.
Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, ACN has been helping for this center for some time now, and again this year ACN has promised to help with $16,500.
Will you give to support poor and struggling young mothers in Burkina Faso?
Aid to the Church in Need commits to invest your funds where they will have the greatest impact for the Church that we serve. Funds donated to Aid to the Church in Need’s projects will be used towards the greatest need in our programs to help keep the Faith alive.