Genotine recently delivered her second baby, a sweet little girl named Marigette. At 19 years old, this is Genotine’s second baby. Her first baby is a little boy who just recently turned two years old. Two precious children from two different fathers, both of whom are no longer around. Instead Genotine is a single teenage mom with 2 children just trying to survive.
This little family lives with Genotine’s mom in a 10′ x 12′ tin and satrana house under several towering mango trees. This house is then divided into two rooms by a mud wall. Genotine and her two children living in a single room that is 5′ x 6′ in size, her mother in the other room. When we made our first home visit to Genotine after her daughter was born, Genotine sat upon her bed, which consisted of just a blanket upon the straw mat that covered the dirt that was her floor. When she was fully outstretched on her bed in order for us to check her fundus (top of her uterus), her head touched one wall while her feet touched the other.
Dropping out of school at 11 years old is an all too common occurrence in Madagascar. In order to provide for her family, Genotine and her mom have a small plot of land where they grow felka or sweet potato leaves. They then sell their harvest on the side of the road– the two of them together make just about $8.65 a month by selling their felka. $8.65 a month… for a family of four.
Breakfast is never an option for this family– they simply don’t eat in the morning. For lunch they have vary sosoa, essentially a soupy rice that consists only of rice and lots of water. For dinner, the family has rice and sweet potato leaves from their garden. During the rainy season, they eat mangoes and tiny 2″ fish that they’re able to catch in the rice paddies near their home. Day in, day out, 365 days a year.
Genotine, like all the ladies in our program, receives free prenatal vitamins during the duration of her time in our program. When her baby turns 6 months old, Genotine will graduate from our postpartum/early child development program with a diploma and an additional 6-month supply of prenatal vitamins in her hand. This is thanks to a generous vitamin grant through Vitamin Angels in Santa Barbara, CA.
During her first pregnancy, Genotine received prenatal care and delivered at a government facility. Prenatal vitamins weren’t an option for this young mom and so she went without. She shared that with the addition of the prenatal vitamins given to her by Vitamin Angels and the Sarobidy Maternity Center she has more strength, more energy, is able to think more clearly and sleeps better. Simple things that make a big difference. We know that from a medical perspective, these vitamins do so more for mom and baby!
When we asked Genotine what she hopes for her children, her response was simple yet universal, “that they would receive a good education, finish high school and get a good job”. We later asked Genotine what her dream was… this required a good 3-minute explanation of what a “dream” is because frankly she’s never been able to dream about anything more than her day-to-day survival. After understanding our question, she took a few minutes to think about it and responded, “I would love to have a good job that would provide for my family by doing something with my hands… like embroidery or sewing”. Though she doesn’t know yet, I’m planning on inviting Genotine into our soon-to-launch expanded artisan training program. I’m excited about this!
As we were leaving, Genotine’s sweet and vivacious mom gave us an amazing compliment when she said that she believes in her heart and sees with her eyes that the work of the Sarobidy Maternity Center is God’s grace extended. God’s grace for the ladies and their babies, God’s grace for Genotine, God’s grace for us that get to be involved in the care of these women.
** story shared with Genotine’s permission