From Child to Mother

Interview by Guillermo Gutierrez

Carmen lives in the community of Tzampoi, Nahuala, Boca Costa with her family. She is 12 years old and nine month pregnant.  She attends third grade at school, and after the baby is born, she will meet with the father of her son and continuie studying. Carmen's mother shows no concern about the pregnancy of her daughter. It is something quite normal and traditional in their community.

Veronica outside her house holding her son. The house is overcrowded and the family lives in extreme poverty.

 

 Roxana with her two kids and mother in law.

 

Dina holds her 3 years old son´s hand. She was sixteen when she became a mother.

 

Sulma was 15 when she became pregnant for the first time from her 23 years old partner. She lost her first child  due to the excess of fluid in the baby´s body.  After the loss she got  pregnant again. Today, Sulma is 17 years old, and lives in “Tierra Santa” village in San Lucas Toliman with her four months old daughter, her husband and his family. Sulma says that for her "contraceptives" are something new and in her community has no way to acquire them.

 

A makeshift religious shrine at Sulma´s house.  The photographs are a memorial of her first daughter, who tragically died on the way to hospital.  Most of families in Guatemala are strict Catholics, and small shrines can be seen in most houses. Catholic teachings further complicates the issue of family planning, as contraceptives are not permitted and abortion is illegal in Guatemala, even in cases of rape and incest.

Roxana second child is just two months old.

 

 Mercedes with her son. For the first time she became pregnant at the age of sixteen from her nineteen year-old boyfriend. Recently, she had an miscarriage in her second pregnancy.  She  wants to leave her husband because of abuse and go with her child to look for a job and a better life outside her community.

 

There are a lot of misinformation surrounding contraception and family planning in the Guatemalan communities. A local NGO, called Ademkan (Association for the Development of Women) is attempting to tackle low levels of understanding in this area by organising workshops to inform and answer questions about family planning methods.