“What is it like being a Mom in Guatemala?”

I stared into the tired, smiling eyes of a woman who daily struggles under the debilitating weight of poverty.  Our lives are so different.  I live in an affluent city.  My home stocked with comforts.   My husband well-paid.  My neighbourhood bustling with opportunities to play and enjoy life.  Good schools and safe streets.  My children sleeping in peace, with full bellies and not a care in the world.   Their minds brimming with plans, their hearts with dreams, and so many supports to help them get there.

She, on the other hand, lives a very different life.  Her laundry scrubbed by hand.  Barely enough beans in the dinner pot.  Her husband treated harshly on the coffee plantation where he works.  Little money to compensate for his hard labour.  Her five children surrounded by gangs and drugs and violence.  Limited opportunities to plan and dream, especially on hungry stomachs and weary hearts.

Our lives are so different.  And yet…are they really?

I eye the Dora backpack hanging on the wall above her little girl’s bed.  I smile as I think of my own little girl back at home, probably watching Dora on the TV before she goes to sleep tonight.  And here is a little girl in Guatemala, with the same smile and shyness, and love of Dora that my own little girl shares.

I turn to the tired, smiling eyes of this Guatemalan mom.  “What is it like being a Mom in Guatemala?”

She sighs, and thinks for just a moment, before responding.  “It is difficult.  I have many children.  But I tell my husband every day that we have to trust in God for what we need.”

Our lives are so different.  Yet, I nod my head, knowingly.  Yes, we have to trust in God for what we need.

Because my husband may not have a job tomorrow, and we may never have savings for the future, and we never know what might break down.  But we trust in God for what we need.

Because our health may not last, and accidents happen, and sicknesses come.  But we trust in God for what we need.

Because marriages break down, and friendships get tough, and love is unreturned, and hearts hurt.  But we trust in God for what we need.

Because children get demanding, and we get tired, and we don’t know the direction a child’s heart will take, and all the patience and love in the world just doesn’t seem to be working.  But we trust in God for what we need.

Because we don’t know what we really have to offer, or how we can help, or if we can really afford to give to someone who seems to need it more than we do.  But we trust in God for what we need.

And I will continue to do my best to help moms like this in Guatemala, and right where I live, and all around the world.  I will share my daily bread with them, because our lives are so different.  But, in a sense, they are not so different, because we all must trust in God for what we need.

The Lord helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads.  The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it.  When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.  The Lord is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness.  The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.  He grants the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them.  (Psalm 145:14-19)

 

By Lauren Miller
Compassion Canada Child Advocate