In Peru’s conservative society, sexual education is not a topic that is easily broached. In rural areas and among the poor, young people are not offered adequate sexual education leading to a high number of teenage pregnancies.
Among teenagers, there is much ignorance of contraceptive methods. Abortion is illegal in Peru. Adolescent mothers find themselves scared, stigmatised and forced to drop out of school. To many, the pregnancy becomes on obstacle to economic emancipation.
San Juan de Lurigancho is Lima’s most populous district, with a population of over 1.2 million people. Its poorer Zona Alta territory is located in a mountainous region where residents have difficult access to water, electricity, medical care and education.
There is only one hospital in San Juan de Lurigancho, which is unable to cope with the area’s maternity cases. Mothers are given little time with medical staff and are given little support after the birth of the baby.
Asociación Taller de los Niños (TANI), which was established in 1978, runs programmes in education and health specifically tailored for early childhood and adolescent pregnancy.
TANI runs nurseries for children aged six months to five years, allowing their mothers to work or return to education. Through the organisation’s health programme, 250 mothers and new-borns a month are given access to a paediatric clinic, a women’s clinic as well as breastfeeding and nutrition workshops.
The successful ‘Red Mami’ (Mother’s Network) has helped change the perception of underage mothers, giving them the support they need and helping rebuild their confidence.
The organisation sees 2,000 adolescent mothers per month. Thanks to its health programme, 98 per cent of child participants are saved from malnutrition. Of the adolescents who had dropped out of school, 50 per cent have returned to education through TANI’s support.
With over 35 years experience working with families and children of San Juan de Lurigancho, ATN has established itself as a trusted source of information and support within the community.
Photo: Paco Chuquiure/Stars Foundation