Young mothers receive motivation – El Nido Family Centers in LA offers therapeutic help and encourages them towards academic achievements
La Opinion, by: JACQUELINE GARCÍA MAY 12, 2018
Evelyn Balbuena was just 16 when she found out she was pregnant. She was afraid, not only because she had to face motherhood at a very young age, but also because she felt – he said – that she had failed his parents, who gave her all his confidence.
“My mom always told me not to do things. I feel like I disappointed my parents,” said the young woman, today the mother of a 1-year-old child.
When her mother found out, she agreed to help her. But the same did not happen with her father. “My dad did not talk to me like for a month,” recalled Evelyn, who is now 18 years old.
A similar story faced Leticia Calleros, who three months after her 15th birthday became pregnant.
“My quinceañera was in September and I found out in December. I already felt different but I did not say anything to my mom … I went to Planned Parenthood to check myself and they said yes, “recalled Calleros, 24 years old.
Soon after, her mother learned of her pregnancy through a friend and confronted her with her older brother.
“My brother was the first to let go of courage. My dad had just died a year earlier and he told me he had disrespected my father, “said Leticia, unable to hold back her tears.
“With my mom, it was not so much the pain of knowing that I was pregnant. He [my brother] stopped talking to me like for six months. ”
Offering a helping hand
Evelyn said that during her pregnancy she went to the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) food service and there she was given information to receive support when her baby was born.
“I gave my name and phone number and about one week a case manager spoke to me,” said the young woman. The person who contacted her was part of El Nido Family Centers, located in South Los Angeles.
They are in charge of training the families of low-income communities in Los Angeles County to break the cycle of poverty, child abuse and neglect; in addition to violence, academic failure and adolescent pregnancy through its educational, youth development, health and therapeutic services.
Evelyn accepted the help to finish her high school education. “My case manager Mirna told me that we had to see each other twice a month so that I could talk about my goals and offer my son a better future,” said the young woman, who is about to graduate from high school in June.
A constant struggle
Leticia said her situation was a bit more difficult. After graduating from high school at age 18, she decided to leave home and was confronted with the world of drugs.
“I was in a rehabilitation center and then they sent me to El Nido. By then I already had the twins and his dad was in jail, she said.
The young mother of four girls said that the program has helped her to continue her recovery as a drug addict and learn to face the loss of her right arm in an accident.
“It helped me for my depression. Four years ago I was at home alone and here they help me a lot, they do not judge me or look at me strangely. And that’s how I started to get out of that hole that I got alone, “said Leticia, who now has new goals in life. “I want to set up a children’s center and work in the administrative part,” he added.
Saúl Figueroa, supervisor of the El Nido family center program, said it is important that young women have help for their children. “Helping young moms with resources, knowledge on how to strengthen families will help their children. El Nido has therapists who can work with parents,” he said.
“We know it’s important to work with both mom and dad. And we give them the resources because the child improves if both parents are involved,” said Figueroa. “In the program we have about 82 parents of 24 years or less who have children from 0 to 5 years old”.
In his experience, he says that it is the lack of communication with parents that leads young people to become parents at an early age. Evelyn said that thanks to her administrator who helped her create her goals, she was able to overcome the postpartum stage.
“Here you have the support and we take advantage of it because not everyone has it. Then I started coming here and I met new friends”, she said.
Both young people agreed that when you need help you have to ask for it. “There are many programs that help, there is always going to be someone to help us move forward,” said Leticia. For more information about El Nido call (424) 785-7908 or visit: https://www.elnidofamilycenters.org/how-you-can-help/contact-us/ to find a center near your home.