Updated: Jul 12
Amanda Verusk leads The Gathering Project which this year has followed 18 young vulnerable mums between the ages of 16 and 21. It has also ensured the safe delivery and ongoing care of 19 babies. Yes there were twins! Throughout the year the project has connected with these young women at least 40 times. Several workshops and seminars were delivered. Part of the Gathering Project’s vision is to campaign in schools and civil society about the prevention of early teenage pregnancy.
Here is some feedback about how the project has gone this year from Amanda. We asked her to tell us about her three joys, three sad moments and three dreams. Here is what she had to say about joyous moments. In our next post we will hear from her about sadness.
1. Teenage pregnancy prevention network
One of the Gathering Project’s objectives is disseminating public policy and creating awareness of policies that deal with the prevention of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s). The Gathering Project has sought to build relationships, working to reach young people and aiming to put together prevention strategies on early pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
There is nothing better for the team than widening our reach and strengthening our Support Network. This network covers NASF Núcleo de Apoio à Saúde da Família (the Support Nucleus for Healthy Families), CRAS Centro de Referência da Assistência Social (the Reference Centre for Social Assistance), Conselho Tutelar (Social Services for Children), Schools in the state sector, as well as churches and associations. The project team visited 16 local schools campaigning on early pregnancy prevention and presented the message of prevention to some churches and assocations. Through these campaigns we reached over 400 people. We had a very positive experience visitng the schools and were very well received by the staff. The students were receptive and showed understanding of the issues presented to them.
2. Focused meetings, workshops, seminars and talks.
All our meetings are memorable this year. Once a week we have focused meetings with the mums we support. Here we reflect on and digest new information to help and support them. We cover themes from caring for their babies to the protection of their children, nutrition, available state assistance, mums and babies rights, the world of work, teenage pregnancy and income generation workshops. These meetings have certainly helped the mums in their personal development. Empowering the mums to access information and knowledge is a vital part of the work we deliver at the Gathering Project.
3. Our project has developed into a beautiful network of supportive relationships
During this period we’ve observed how important a support network is for each young mum’s life. At the beginning of the project most of them arrived with few expectations, with no goal, fearful of the future, desiring respite and shelter that would bring them hope. Today we see how much they have grown in their understanding of their own self-worth and value to the world.
They are becoming aware of their rights and seeking a better future for their babies. The Gathering Project has become a beautiful network for the mums, enabling them to feel embraced and loved by each other. They share their difficulties, joys, baby clothes and equipment, mutually supporting one another. We also have a Whatsapp group, which informs them about other general activities and where they can exchange information and share their experiences about the challenges and difficulties they are facing with their babies. This support network is helping them feel less isolated, is improving their interpersonal relationships and creating stronger connections with each other.
Our next post: The Three Sad Moments of the Gathering Project’s First Year
Written by Amanda Verusk, Project Gathering Coordinator
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