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Don't Leave Girl Mothers on their Own!

Desperation without limits, non-stop accusation fingers. Economic, social and political factors had interwoven and complicated my life. Victim in spite of me.

A leftist government made my life unlivable. In the beginning of that economic nightmare, my mother in law had a pantry full of long lasting foods. After some time, there was nothing in stock.The scarce food in the house became scarcer.

Empty shelves were the trademark of this government and prices began to rise beyond any mother's ability to afford. That was the case of most people in Bolivia.

President Siles Suazo had promised the poor people would have a strong economy in 100 days if elected, and won the elections with more than 60%. In the 6th month of his office, I was a hungry pregnant girl. A year later, Bolivians were hungry population and we were eating up my mother in law’s pantry food. She got mad.
As sugar, flour and rice were highly priced and very scarce, there was no bread in the stores. The government came up with a solution: Bread makers would receive all the flour to make small pieces of bread from mixed flours, and people would have to register in the government to receive coupons for it.

Lines formed at bakeries at 3 a.m. and people would receive their bread by 6 a.m.: five pieces of bread for each person, one coupon per person, no more than two people per family. Every night, my husband would leave the house to buy bread for the family. In return my mother in law would give us some food from the pantry. They bought coupons in the black market to make it to the lines.

On December 26th, 1984, my third son was born. He healed my spirit. It didn’t matter to me if my mother in law wanted me to work more or less. During this pregnancy I learned how to read my signs of enough work, and slept as much as I needed. Between April and December, I did not work. If something was dirty and I could not clean up, I would just sigh and smile. Luckily my only job was to look for food!

As I have said before, shelves were empty everywhere and by May, inflation had reached an all time high of 10 thousand percent. I remember once seeing a woman taking money to the store in a wheelbarrow… to buy food. When anyone went out to the streets to sell flour, milk or sugar, people would nearly kill him to get the goods. Roaming outside with such commodities was a direct invitation to robbery.

One dollar used to cost 12 pesos with Banzer dictatorship government until 1978, then it went up to 180 pesos in 1982, through different dictatorships, and finally reached 2,000,000 pesos per dollar with the left wing government of Siles Suazo in 1984. One piece of bread got to cost 200,000 pesos.

Information, Formation and Transformation through Communication are the key to success in the lives of small persons with big responsibilities. The GETS Center (Gender Equality Training and Studies Center) is in the process of consolidating help for girl mothers, if you want to join us, please drop a message in my mailbox. Remember that this is a global issue, and we have the blessing of technology to work together.

I dream of having a place where girl mothers can meet and learn about their babies, their bodies and their life struggles. But most of all, I dream to bring education in gender issues become more real, reaching women and touching them in ways that can change their lives. We need to get real, get more humane, GET EQUAL in our rights.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 31 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most forgotten corners of the world. Meet Us.


Kim Crane's picture

heartbreaking and inspiring

wow, what a powerful story you have written. I can't imagine being a mother with so little material resources or loving support. How brave of you for staying strong and for sharing your story. I have heard about the economic problems in Bolivia but your story really put this into perspective. It's a powerful reminder that the effects of poverty go much deeper than the lack of money. It sounds like the work you are doing with the GETS Center is wonderful, much needed work, providing the confidence, education, and support needed for girls to start breaking cycles of poverty. Thank you for letting us know about this issue, and about the work you are involved in to improve the situation for girl mothers. I hope that no one else will have to go through the kinds of experiences you've described here.

jap21's picture

I agree with you

Dear Kim:

I am sorry to have caused you such a distress.

But I must let you know that I didn't do this on my own. Please read and you will understand why I tell you this.

My total testimony of how God has worked in my life and keeps being present, is infinite.

In loving friendship,


Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America

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