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Visiting young Mums at Project Gathering


In February 2024 I was in Recife visiting some of Happy Child International’s partner projects. One of the projects that I really like and feel passionate about is the work with young pregnant mums that we are supporting. Early unplanned pregnancy is a concerning issue in Brazil and in different regions of the country. Low income communities are particularly affected. Just in Recife alone there are a total of 14.4,000 live births a year and 1,929 (13.4%) are to young girls.    


Giselle’s story



I met 17 year old Giselle in 2023 just after her baby daughter Jasmine was born. She is still a project participant. Today, a year on, I return to visit them. Her daughter is nearly a year old now. We are in the low income community of Sapo Nu. We walk up a rubbled alleyway where all the houses seem huddled together. It’s 32 degrees outside but there is no air conditioning inside and outside the electricity cables hang dangerously low. Giselle lives with her Mum who receives £119 a month  from the “Bolsa Familiar” which is a kind of state benefit.  This is barely enough to feed the 3 of them.  Life is tough. Giselle said that Jasmine’s Father is not on the scene and certainly isn’t contributing financially. She is on her own. She has managed to go back to school but relies on her mum to take care of Jasmine.  School is from 2pm to 8 pm in the evening. There are no creche facilities in High School for little ones.  Giselle says she wants to try and complete her studies. She knows this is important for finding work in the future and being able to provide for her daughter. She said that the project had been of huge support and encouragement to her and that it has linked her up with other mums in a similar situation to hers.  


In supporting these young mums the programme tackles topics like caring for a new baby, nutrition and hygiene in the home, the rights of new mums to access the health care system, sex education and the use of contraception, and provides some workshops on generating income through small micro enterprises. The mum’s desperately need skills they can use to top up their income. Offering acrylic nail extensions or eyebrow crafting to bring in extra funds can make the world of difference. The project also provides monthly basic food baskets. Food insecurity is a serious issue for the mums on the project.  When the new babies are born the project also offers a standard “new born necessity kit” to help them begin their journey as a new mum.  


The projects Campaign in local schools to raise awareness about unplanned early pregnancy is called Don’t Activate Mum Mode.  It has focused on delivering publicity material to 20 classes of 40 students in order to reach a target audience of 800 young people. It’s getting the message out about the risks of early unplanned pregnancy and putting this issue on the agenda for debate and consideration.


As I leave Giselle’s I am heartened that a life as vulnerable as hers and all the other young mums I’ve met this week have found support, encouragement, and friendship through the project and in the most challenging of times.   


  • Written by Caroline Taylor


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