by Jessica Schober, senior
Childhood in the Argentina slums ends early for girls since many continue to become pregnant as young as the age of twelve. Students from Concordia recently witnessed this during their two-week stay in Argentina.
“We will go to the villa known as Ciudad Oculta. Do you know what a villa is?” asked Lilly, the L.I.F.E. Argentina director. The clueless students pondered the question in silence. “Villas are the slums of the city. No one goes there unless they live there. We work with the children to give them hope and to show them a better life. Many parents do not work. They drink. The children go to school for the food and shelter, not the education. Girls get pregnant really young because their mothers did the same thing.”
Amada blended with the rest of the children there, but when she stepped away from the group and unzipped her jacket, the pregnancy at only 12 years of age proved real. Unlike many young pregnant girls, Amada continues to attend junior high and even takes English classes. Information about her pregnancy and possible stigma or difficulties she may be facing was not obtained due to language difficulties.
Ana, fifteen years old, lives in an even poorer part of Argentine slums. When the volunteers arrived she was kicking a soccer ball with the rest of the kids her age. Ana appeared to be like any other growing girl until the moment she left the game. Erica Norton, a Concordia volunteer with L.I.F.E., handed a baby girl from her arms back to Ana who then transitioned to mothering her baby rather than playing with her friends.
L.I.F.E. Argentina and Concordia students worked together for two weeks for the purpose of showing love and value to girls like Amada and Ana and to any child looking for someone willing to give them their time. Visit www.lifeargentina.org for more information about volunteering with this organization.