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.
We asked Amanda to tell us about her three joys, three sorrows and three dreams. Here is what she had to say about the three dreams she has for the near future.
1. Ongoing support
The Gathering Project helps young pregnant girls and supports babies who need postnatal care for one year. However we dream about a project that cares for these young mums and babies for a longer period of time. We know that ongoing support is extremely important for their socio-emotional, physical, cognitive and spiritual development.
2. Capacity building
We are planning to introduce more courses about income generation for the mums at the Gathering Project so that they can earn a living and support their children with greater dignity. Courses will include hairdressing, eye brow design, gel nail art etc. It requires resources for equipment and trainers in certain areas of expertise.
3. Adequate Food Supply
We would like to give each mum on the project a monthly food basket to ensure they have good nutrition while they are pregnant or nursing.
Testimonies of those at the Gathering Project:
“What to say about the Gathering Project ? If a film passed through my head I wouldn’t know exactly what to say because there are so many good things the project did and is doing in my life, I think I could write a book. The project really helps. I love participating, I love our meetings, I love how Amanda and all those at Instituto Solidare welcome us.
Before coming here, my life was difficult and I thought a few things like I was not going to succeed and that I wanted to give up. When I met Amanda it felt like light at the end of the tunnel, that I needed to be there always, where I had support from everyone. I can only thank you so much. I say this all the time when we meet, that Instituto Solidare and the Gathering Project are my family because they truly embraced me and are always helping us. Thank you all so much. May God bless all of you” Milena Barbosa
(20 years old)
"Before getting to know the project I was very sad, as when I got pregnant all my friends disappeared and I became a single mum. I felt alone and down. I don’t have a mum, but when I started to go to the project I changed and began interacting with others there. I enjoy myself and I learn. I am gaining more experience. I feel better, the psychological support I am receiving is really helping me. I am so grateful. Everyone at Instituto Solidare are family for me”
(23 years old)
“The project is great, I’ve made various friends, I’ve learned things. It has been a great help for me and my son. I don’t work, I have no income from the government, and when I have nappy donations etc its a big help”
(17 years old)
“The Gathering Project was so needed in my life and in the lives of all those participating. Apart from teaching us in so many ways, the project has turned us into better people, with a different way of thinking. I am grateful for all the things the project has done for me and for my baby, not just for the material benefits, but for the advice and support. The project is very helpful for me, it really prepared me during my pregnancy and left me feeling more secure about certain things. I confess I thought I would not be a good Mum, that I would not be able to breastfeed, and that I would not be enough for my baby. But all these thoughts changed when I went to the Gathering Project, as the support I had was inexplicable. I thank God first and foremost and secondly I thank all the collaborators of the Gathering Project. You are incredible and God will bless you"
(Aged 17 years)
Written by Amanda Verusk, Project Gathering Coordinator
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