18-year-old Blanca lives with her 2-year-old daughter, Maria, in one of the major cities in Bolivia. Four years ago, her mother passed away, so she dropped out of school to take care of her siblings. When she was 16 years old, she became pregnant and ran away from home because she feared the reaction of her alcoholic father.
“My mother passed away when I was 14 years old. I had to drop out of school because I had to take care of my younger siblings. But my dad started drinking heavily and started hitting us. At that point I realized that I was pregnant. I was afraid of telling him, so I just ran away with my boyfriend.”
For a year Blanca lived on the street with her child, where she faced daily challenges.
“We lived on the street for a year. Sometimes my boyfriend stole so that I could sleep in a warm room from time to time. I got criticized a lot. People would say “How can you have a child at such a young age? Eres una wawa con una wawa” (You are a child with a child). Then they would walk off… It is really hard when your mom passes away. I tried to go back to my family, but they moved. I don’t know where they are right now….They still don’t know that I have a two-year old daughter.”
Blanca wants to go back to school to provide her daughter with a better future, but she knows that it will be difficult. She does not have a safe place to leave her daughter while going to school and she fears people will judge her for being a teenage mother.
“I don’t want my Maria to go through the same difficult situation as me. That is why I really want to go back to high school now and finish my degree. I know that it will be hard because people judge girls like me. But I want to fight for the well-being of my daughter. And I can only do that by obtaining a degree.”
Blanca won’t give up, despite the odds and everything that she’s been through. Save the Children won’t give up either. We are campaigning in Bolivia to ensure that Blanca and other excluded girls who live on the margins of society can realize their potential and live in dignity.
Together we can create opportunities for girls like Blanca to ensure that they are protected and fulfil their full potential.