Mattress maker hems a future free from poverty for her children

Others, Child Poverty , Stories

Contributed by: Compassion Canada


How empowering moms through skills training enhances child development

Written by: Rayo Adegoke


When a friend first took Yenny’s second son, Geremy, to the local Compassion centre to be registered in the Survival program, Yenny knew his life would change forever. But what she didn’t realize was that her life was about to change, too.

Yenny first heard about Compassion’s Survival program at her local church when she was pregnant with her first son, Jeremias. She wanted her son to be a part of the Compassion centre. She saw it as a beacon of light in the darkness, knowing that there, he would learn about Jesus and see a life beyond his environment. Ultimately, she hoped it would give him the help he needed to thrive.

But when she missed the opportunity to register Jeremias in the program because he was beyond the registration age, Yenny didn’t think she’d ever have another opportunity to be a part of it.

“When I was told my son could not be registered at the centre because of his age, I was mad. The truth is that I kept a lot of resentment in my heart without imagining that God’s plans were to give me a second child—and that this one would be the lucky one,” says Yenny.

Soon Yenny would have a second child, Geremy, who would give them this life-changing opportunity that she so sought. An opportunity that would go beyond supporting the survival of her sons, but also empowering her to unlock her potential to be a provider for her family.

But Yenny’s journey here wouldn’t be without its challenges.

As a little child, Geremy was constantly falling sick. When things didn’t seem to get better, Yenny took her baby boy to the doctor, only to receive the devastating news that her son was suffering from parasites. Geremy had a severely inflamed colon and perforated intestine.

“At Survival, I learned how to manage my baby’s hygiene, and I was sure I took good care of him,” says Yenny. “I felt devastated when doctors told me about my son’s condition.”

“But I was not alone. From transportation, studies, analysis, consultations, medicines, special food for him and the family, emotional support and so many things, the centre was always there with me.”

“Literally, without Survival, Geremy would not be alive today,” she says.

Yenny’s youngest son, Geremy.

Hope through job skills training

But as Geremy’s health improved, Yenny’s continued to decline. Living with a health condition called sickle-cell anemia, Yenny faces many challenges, including severe pain episodes.

On top of all she had dealt with regarding Geremy’s health, this was certainly too much for any mother to bear. But Yenny didn’t let this deter her. She knew that to survive these present challenges and give her sons a chance at a better life, she would need to stand strong and put her faith in God to do the impossible.

And God did. Soon, Yenny got the opportunity to learn new skills at the Compassion centre.

“I always liked to create, design and repair things. So, this was the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill that would help me to do all of that. Besides, they told me that I could get income from the work of my hands,” says Yenny.

Yenny took on the upholstery course, where she learned to make cushions, work with textiles, make furniture and repair and make mattresses to generate income that would provide for her family.

Rosina, the course’s instructor, noticed Yenny’s determination immediately.

“Yenny was my best student. She was very dedicated, which surprised me because I knew that her life was very difficult. Even so, she continued without stopping until she succeeded excellently,” says Rosina.

Yenny with her instructor, Rosina.

An empowered pathway forward

Yenny excelled so much that Rosina made her the right-hand woman of the class: the on-call assistant. Together, they repair and make mattresses to give to the children at the centre who don’t have a comfortable place to sleep—including her own two sons.

“My children slept on a thick quilt that had been given to me, and thanks to this course and the support of the centre, I made my own children’s mattresses. The centre provided all the materials. I was able to make with my hands the mattresses where my children sleep, study … and even jump,” says Yenny.

Geremy jumping on a mattress that his mother made.

Now nine years old, Geremy is a strong student and loves to play with his friends at the centre, as well as with his older brother, Jeremias. He does his homework diligently, learning from his mother’s example of hard work and perseverance. And he’s grateful for his mother’s mattress-making skills.

Geremy working on a mattress.

“Now I can sleep comfortably, and my body no longer hurts when I wake up. My mom makes the best mattresses in the world,” says Geremy.

Yenny is filled with gratitude and pride. It was her own two hands that built the mattresses where her children lay their heads today and dream for tomorrow. And it brings her much joy knowing that her boys will treasure this in their hearts as well.

As moms, our greatest delight is to watch our children become all that God has made them to be. And when we are equipped and empowered to play our roles in making this happen, we are living out motherhood the way God intended.

Yenny hopes that her sons continue to learn about Jesus at the centre. She prays that they would learn to put their trust in God, just as she has in her own life.

“The only thing I want is for my children to study, to be good men and to serve the Lord,” she says.

It’s the deep desire of a mother who gives everything for her children.

Mothers play a key role in breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. An empowered mother is more likely to make informed and independent decisions regarding her own family and finances. She is more likely to play a greater role in intra-household decisions, especially in issues involving her child’s education and overall development.



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