I know that we already posted this picture above in last month’s newsletter, but I think it merits some further commentary. This was one of the most striking images for me from our time in Mizque last month- seeing our 15 year old Sofia painting the face of a girl younger than she, already carrying her baby.

The reality of young girls marrying or having children early on in life is one with which I am intellectually familiar. I can give you lots of statistics, historical, cultural and economic reasons why this continues to be a common occurrence here, but all of that head knowledge just doesn’t compare to the reality that is staring you in the face.

Here you see the same girl in line to get a gift of a Barbie(-esque) doll. She had already gone through the line for her child to receive their toy, and now, being the child that she is, wanted to be included in receiving the gifts for the girls in the community. We definitely didn’t plan for this, but how could we say no?

This all-too-common scenario wasn’t lost on our older girls either. They made comments, had questions, and it led to some very good discussions about what they face as females about to enter into womanhood. My hope is that they take advantage of the fact that while they cannot live with their families, they are in a loving and nurturing environment with people that want the very best for them. They are surrounded by strong women who are excellent professionals, wonderful mothers, talented in many areas, full of wise counsel (and a lot of fun!). We want our girls to be able to break the cycles that have been repeated so much in their pasts and be free to become who they want to be.

I am grateful for the opportunities that other organizations, grants and visiting teams have afforded our girls to be able to have a first-hand understanding of the state of women in their country. I hope that our girls take advantage of these experiences and use them to not only improve their own lives, but the lives of the girls and women with whom they interact. I’m looking forward to seeing what our girls will be doing in the next 10 years…