Breaking the cycle of poverty for teenage mothers in Colombia
17 young girls get pregnant every day in Colombia. 75% of these girls come from families living in dire poverty and social exclusion. In order to look after their children, young mothers end up leaving school early without the skills or training to find employment and without the resources to support their children.
In the most marginalized neighborhoods in Cartagena, these figures are even worse. Teenage girls are living in unhealthy conditions, they suffer from malnutrition and frequently experience violence inside and outside the home. Their chances of getting out of the cycle of poverty are few and far between, and these young girls often end up working in prostitution or drug dealing to survive.
Fundación Juanfe, with its 22 years of experience working in Cartagena with teenage mothers, knows all too well that the children of these teenagers are likely to suffer from malnutrition, a lack of medical care, insufficient stimulation and even abandonment. These children have a higher mortality rate than other newborn babies.
As part of the joint project, this organisation cares for 1,200 people, of whom 240 are teenage mothers, 240 babies (aged between 6 and 24 months) and 720 are close family members. The teen mothers receive psychological support. With sessions on personal empowerment, sexual and reproductive health, training in a trade and business concepts, the teenagers are empowered in their roles as mothers and women that have the possibility of working and making a living in order to support their children. Their children are supported to encourage their social, emotional and cognitive development. Work is also done with the families themselves to help strengthen their relationship with their children. This working model, dubbed the 360º Model, has been developed by the foundation in order to offer support in every direction and to break the cycle of poverty in which they are all living.
Thanks to the Fundación Juanfe, young girls who have got pregnant at a young age are now women with a trade who are in control of their own lives. And most importantly of all, their children have managed to escape the same fate as that of their mothers when they were children.