My name is Clara*. I am 34 years old, and I have three children. My eldest child is seven, and my other two children are three years old.
I am going to tell you a little bit about my life and about my past.
How it All Began
Remembering back to when I was a child and went to school, I didn’t have school supplies. My parents gave me whatever they could because they never got a chance to go to school. As an adolescent, I would weave, but I could only earn about 5-8 Q a day, so I decided to go to work in Guatemala City in domestic service. I also earned very little there.
The part that got very difficult was when I got married. My life changed completely. I felt like my life… just started to fall apart. The father of my children began to hit me. The beatings got worse every day. One time, he beat me so badly my face was very injured and my fingers had been dislocated. He locked me in the bedroom until I recovered. He would insult me and made me feel that I wasn’t worth anything. I was four months pregnant with my eldest daughter when he began beating me. I was very gullible and I thought that he might change. I was scared to face my life without him.
After that, I did separate from him, and I realized I was pregnant again. When I found out they were twins, I was very happy about that, but I was also very, very sad because I realized I would be alone. I went back to him and the beatings continued, so I decided to leave him again when my children were just one month old.
Surviving Day by Day
At that time, it was very difficult for me – I had no support network. My family couldn’t give me what I needed. My babies depended a lot on me, completely on me. I couldn’t go out to work, but I would still try… wash clothing, dishes, or house cleaning. I arrived at a moment where I realized I can’t do this alone. The father of my children would tell me: you’re not going to be able to do this, and I’m not going to help you – he was never going to give me one cent to help me. I thought, maybe he’s right – I can’t do this by myself, I won’t be able to.
I decided to try and find some help. For me it was very shameful, but it was necessary. I had nothing more to sell of the things I had made, or my belongings. I sold all of my weavings, my cortes, everything. I got to the point where all I had was two pieces of clothing.
I thought of maybe having to leave my kids at an orphanage. I thought they would have no future with me. With me, they didn’t even have any food to eat, they had no clothes, no milk. Many people ignored me. I felt like a failure. I thought that an orphanage might be the only solution because no matter how hard I worked, there was nothing I could do to make ends meet.
Finding Inspiration and Help
I found Project Somos as I was looking for an orphanage to leave them. It was an incredible feeling finding them. At first I was very scared. I wondered, how can there be people that give and don’t expect anything back in return. When I met Heather and Greg, I realized though, it does exist! There are people like this!
I remember the words of my ex-husband very clearly, when he told me I would not be able to do it. And in some part, I think he was right because it was very hard, and I couldn’t do it alone. Today I am here because all of you have helped me, despite not knowing who I am. For me, all of you are angels… divine human beings.
Moving Towards the Future
Today my children are growing up. They’re very happy. They have education. They have lots of love. They have food, clothing, shoes, medicine, and all of that I owe to all of you. I love you very much, I am so grateful. Every single one of you, I am so grateful. Thank you very much. God bless you all.
*Name changed to protect privacy