My name is Maria. I’m 24 years old and I have two children. During my first pregnancy I lived with my partner and although I didn’t know much about baby’s care, I had my mother’s support in all I needed. When my daughter was born I named her Lara, and, despite all the hardship we faced, I was happy to have a family.

When Lara was four, I enrolled her at the Meus Passos Para Jesus (My Steps to Jesus) Child Development Centre of Bethel Baptist Church in Santa Inês. Since Lara started going to the centre, she has changed a lot. Before, she was a quiet girl, but now she tells me everything she’s learned when she comes home, mostly about the Bible.

Sometimes she puts the toys on the floor as if they were students and pretends to be a teacher. She told me she wants to be a teacher when she grows up and it makes me really proud. Although she is a child, she teaches me a lot. She tells me stories of the Bible and all Jesus did for us on the cross.

Lara always reminds me that God is in Heaven looking down on us. But in fact, I just really understood this a few months ago.

PP June 2018 Maria 2

In June 2017, my partner left me and abandoned our home. That day, my world became sadder because I saw my family collapse. One day I had family; the next day I was alone. He left me with a lot of expenses and no money.

A few days after he left, I found out I was pregnant again. When I told my partner, he said he didn’t care and moved to another state. My world fell apart. Besides being alone, I was pregnant and without support to raise two children.

My second pregnancy was very difficult. I felt desperate and alone. Over time I went into depression. I didn’t feel good about anything and I locked myself in the house. The only thing I could think was that everything I had was over and that life would get harder and harder with that child inside of me.

Although I had my mother around, I couldn’t depend on her for everything. She had her own problems. So, one day, the church came into my life once again to help my family. When I was about four months pregnant I discovered that the Survival project provided support for pregnant and single mothers just like me, and I wanted to get involved. When I was hopeless, God provided the opportunity I needed.

Since I started to be part of Compassion's Mums and Babies, my life has changed. The church helped me a lot in all the stages of pregnancy. I'm still not completely cured of depression. Some days the memories of my old life come, and I feel really sad. But I know that if it weren't for Compassion and the church I’d be so much worse off.

PP June 2018 Maria 3

It’s great to know that someone cares about you. Everyone at the church is always willing to help. They always come to visit, ask me how I feel, give me advice, teach me about Jesus and encourage me to move on with God’s help. With them I learned many things about baby care that I didn’t know when my first child was born. I also learned how to embroider and make art with recycled materials.

Beyond all support they give me, I’m very grateful for everything they did for my son. I didn’t have money to buy anything. My family held a donation meeting, but I didn’t get much. We live with the help of the government’s support and my mother’s help. I always felt sad that I couldn’t give a better future for my son.

But, as always, I was worrying about things and God was already preparing everything for me.

The Survival project gave me a firstborn essentials kit with all things my son needed: baby clothes, blankets, diapers, bath products and a baby bathtub. In February 2018, I gave birth to a beautiful and healthy boy; his name is Gustavo. I love to go to church and attend meetings with other mothers. Sometimes Lara asks about her father and kneels in prayer asking God to bring him back. That's why Survival home visits are important, as they help me grow spiritually and reinforce my relationship with my children. They make us feel important and loved, and Lara understands that God is a Father who never leaves us.

I want to see my children growing up in the church; I want them to have a better future than mine. My dream is to build my own house, because here when it rains everything gets wet. The blessings I want today are to offer something better to my children. I know that slowly I will rebuild my life, with God’s help.

I’m thankful. I have hope. I have a new family in Christ. And I know that I’m not alone in this journey.

Words by Maria da Conceição dos Santos Bastos and Sara Navarro