At 24 years of age she already has five children. Her oldest girl is 12. Not 12 days, weeks, or months, but 12 years. That’s exactly half her age. The same age in which she first gave birth. Pregnant at 11, a mother at 12. Unbelievable. Shocking. True.
As troubling as this is, it’s not the most shocking part of the story. Nor is the fact that this young mother of 24 is a widow. Nor that she walks the streets of Antigua selling wares with her children in tow. Not even the “advice” of her friends to sell her 12-year-old daughter is the most shocking. The most shocking part of the story is that she is actually considering it.
For whatever reason, this young mother decided to share her story with us. After declining to buy another necklace or bracelet, we sat and listened as she unfolded her tragic story. She didn’t persist in selling us anything, except her story. She never begged for our money, only our time. She never even asked for our opinion in regards to selling her daughter. She simply wanted someone to listen.
Of course we encouraged her to not listen to the advice of “her friends”, and we pray that she will not. Our plans to meet the next day fell through, due to things beyond our control. We pray that she chooses to keep her daughter, no matter the circumstances. We pray she never considers selling any of her children, not matter what her friends say or do. We pray she comes to a financial situation in which she can put her children in school instead of to work. And we pray she enters into a relationship with Jesus, instead of one with a person who would buy her child.
Unfortunately, the selling of children is not uncommon in Guatemala. It’s part of the reason we are here. We can only hope that this young mother will consider what we said and make the right decision in regards to her daughter. Perhaps we were in the park that day, just for the purpose of meeting her. Perhaps that encounter was all she needed to prevent making the worse decision of her life. Or her daughter’s.
We have girls here at Shadow who were sold. We have boys here whose mothers are barely adults. It’s sad and it’s scary. In 2012 there were 61,000 pregnant teens in Guatemala from the ages of 10-19. Yes, 10 years of age. In fact, 35 of those 61,000 were only 10 years old. God only knows how many of the babies were sold. The trend is increasing every year. Please pray for us as we prepare ourselves to take in more of the children that are a result of this trend. And please pray for the young mothers and their children.