21 February 2011

Women Abroad Take 2: Fernanda da Silva

The next dear woman I want to share with you today is Fernanda da Silva, who though only 16, has already lived so much more life than one would imagine in her few short years. Fernanda is from a rough neighborhood of Sao Paulo originally, but I know her as a resident of a shelter for adolescent mothers run by a small Brazilian organization I'm working for, Lua Nova.

Fernanda is an amazing mother. She loves her daughter with her whole self, plays with her and cares for her constantly. She impresses me all the time, giving so much love to her sweet daughter when she has herself received so little. Fernanda left her home to flee severe abuse at a very young age. She then fell into prostitution and drug trafficking to support herself, becoming pregnant in the process at 15. A network of Brazilian social workers took her out of this situation and brought her to the care of Lua Nova, one of the only places in all of Brazil where she can rehabilitate from drugs, prostitution and homelessness WITH her child. Typically social services will separate mothers from their children, but the brilliant thing about Lua Nova is that they focus on rehabilitating young girls with their children, as mothers, teaching them that in truly loving both themselves and their children, they can learn to break their dependence on drugs, giving them a real reason to live a full life.

Fernanda's story is unfortunately all too typical here - all the girls living at Lua Nova's shelter have some version of her story, and it breaks my heart to hear their experiences. But what is miraculous and brings more joy to me than anything else is to see these girls blossom away from their broken circumstances, becoming dedicated mothers and learning how to find their way in mentally and economically supporting their new family. I'm not a mother yet myself, but their stories inspire me so much on the power of love to transform lives and communities, motherly love perhaps above all else. It also shows to me again the wonderful power of women, of our physical strength to bear and birth children, and then to mentally find the capacity to give our lives to these new children. Motherhood is so often cast aside as some lesser form of living - "just a housewife" is a phrase too often repeated. Instead it is the opposite: there is a true transformative power in motherhood, and I am witness to it daily here with women like Fernanda!


Leslie said...

i wish i could somehow meet the women you work with, julianne. but it makes me happy to know you are there contributing to their recovery and their life changes. lua nova sounds like an incredible place.

jessica renae said...

this is beautiful :)