Her eyes are often downcast as she speaks. Her words are soft and even.
Yet, when she opens her notebook, filled with hand-written poetry and thoughts, she offers a deeper look into the heart and soul of a young single mother.
At 15 years old, Marisol is just a girl herself — too young to be the mother of a 2-year-old girl. Yet here she sits at the DAYA house in the Federal District of Mexico, struggling with the desire to be a good mother and the guilt of not knowing how to do it.
“I write what I feel,” Marisol says. “I like to write what happens with us (my daughter and me). It helps me to pull out what I have inside. At times I’m sad, angry… I can write about it.”
What is DAYA?
Fundación DAYA (Give and Love Foundation) provides housing and care for needy and abused teenage mothers and their children. For the nine girls like Marisol who live at the foundation, they provide education, skills training, parenting help, counseling and support.
Although it is not a Christian organization, DAYA — through a group of Christian women volunteers (like Karla, EFCA ReachGlobal missionary in Mexico) — is a place where these young mothers can hear the gospel and receive discipleship and mentoring.
[Read more about Karla’s craft ministry at DAYA.]
Running from pain
Growing up emotionally abused in Puebla, Mexico, Marisol ran away from home at 12 years old. Before long, she met the father of her daughter, Lupita. He didn’t stick around for long.
“When he left me, I suffered a lot with my daughter,” Marisol says. “I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have money. I didn’t have work. I didn’t have anything… I began to take drugs and all that.”
Life continued in a downward spiral for Marisol until about 10 months ago, when she and Lupita were sent by the National System for the Integral Development of Families in Mexico to receive help at DAYA.
“At first, [being at DAYA] scared me. I wasn’t adapting. I wasn’t used to being with strangers,” Marisol says. She feared how they might treat her or what they would say about her. “But with time, I was able to adapt. Now I like it.”
Today she has friends in the group of young mothers. She also has the support of the women who regularly visit DAYA, volunteering their time and gifts to minister to the girls and their children.
Learning about Christ
Jeanine* is one of those women. She has been volunteering at DAYA for the past five years, teaching bi-weekly group studies on topics such as self-esteem, depression and suffering. When initially approached by the former director to come help at DAYA, she would only agree on the condition that she could openly share the gospel with the girls. DAYA accepted.
“At the end of each session, I invite the girls to talk with me personally,” Jeanine explains. “We can share freely, but we can’t pressure them. We give them opportunities and offer help, but they must come to us.”
Earlier this year, Marisol went to speak with Jeanine. She had been cutting herself.
“There are times when I’m sad, there are times when I’m content,” Marisol says. “But I know I have a problem. With my anger, I take it out on myself. I cut myself.”
Marisol showed Jeanine her scars and told her about her depression. Jeanine explained the gospel to her, and Marisol identified that she was a sinner in need of salvation.
“Marisol cried and she accepted God. She prayed to receive Him as her Savior,” Jeanine says. “I told her that her body is now the house of Jesus Christ.”
A process of healing
Jeanine remembers personally how difficult the healing process can be, coming from a background of emotional and physical abuse herself.
“I always offer a special time to share — a personal time in confidence to see what God is doing in their lives,” she explains. She takes special care to encourage Marisol each time she sees her. A couple of months ago, Jeanine also invited Marisol and Lupita to spend a weekend with her.
“She came to my home and we went to the park. We spent precious time with her daughter,” Jeanine says. “In the past, she didn’t have patience with her daughter. She sometimes hurt her. But I was blessed to see a different relationship with her daughter [during this time].”
Marisol’s poetry and writing reflect this changing relationship with Lupita, as well as her growing relationship with God.
“I want to be your path so that you can walk it and not get lost. I want to be the light that illuminates your dark soul. I want to be your world, love,” it says in her notebook. The poem is dedicated to Lupita.
“Sometimes she still experiences depression,” Jeanine says. “The same thing happened to me in my Christian life, but I found peace in the Bible.”
That is the prayer of the volunteers at DAYA (Jeanine, Karla, and others) for Marisol, as well — that she would continue to heal as she comes to know God better.
“I thank God that He put good people in my path,” Marisol said. “Before I had thought that, for me, all people were bad. That I was never going to know people like this. But now I see that I was wrong… I love them.”
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Bring a short-term team to Mexico City. Serve the Lord through creative evangelism, construction or renovation, teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), job or skills training… or other projects that match with your skills.
- For God to be glorified at DAYA in the lives of the girls and that He would heal their wounded hearts.
- For Marisol as she begins her Christian life and comes to know God better. Pray that she would find the strength in Him to care well for her daughter.
- That God would continue to use Jeanine, Karla, and the other women who volunteer at DAYA to lead the girls to a saving relationship with Him and to show His love to them in a practical way.
Make an online donation to DAYA House.