Bolivia – May 3 2024

Meet Wilma: One woman’s story of resilience through mental health

Author: Monica Garcia Zea 
Communications and Brand Regional Advisor
SOS Children’s Villages in Bolivia

A mother embarks on a journey to rebuild her life after facing unimaginable loss.

When I first met Wilma*, she had a melancholic air about her. After sitting down to talk, I learned the cause of her sadness. Only 34 years old, Wilma had already lost her first daughter in a fatal car accident and had been widowed twice.

"The truth is that I fell apart. My life was shattered, and it seemed like a nightmare. At that moment, I just wanted to die with her," she says. A year later, tragedy struck again when Wilma’s husband died. Wilma was eight months pregnant at the time and needed psychological support to cope. After the child was born, Wilma put all her energy into caring for her baby, whom she named Pamela*.

"She has kept me from falling apart... She has given me strength.” During the pandemic, Wilma became a widow again. Pamela was at that time over one year old, and Wilma was eight months pregnant from her second marriage. At that moment, Wilma knew her children depended only on her, and that even though she was going through very difficult times, she had to get ahead for them.

Wilma did not earn enough to pay for childcare, and venturing into street vending was not an option, as one of her greatest fears was that history would repeat itself. At that time, she met SOS Children's Villages on the advice of a neighbor who, concerned about her circumstances, told her that there was a daycare center in the area where she could leave her daughter so that she could work and also receive help to overcome this difficult time.

"I was afraid to take my daughter and be apart from her. I didn't know what it was like, and then a neighbor told me, ‘It’s good, they will help you, they will help you with the baby.’" Since then, Pamela attends the SOS Children's Villages children's center in Cochabamba, and Wilma received prenatal care and psychological support for her and her daughter. She has found a space she was looking for to care for Pamela but also provides comprehensive support. Wilma received neonatal classes, psychological support, and counseling during her pregnancy, and she has also secured a space at the center for when her baby is born.

A few months ago, I visited her again. Today, Wilma is very different from the one I met before; she is an entrepreneur who started her own ice cream business that she hopes to pass on to her children.

“Now my dream is for them, this business is theirs, I want to finish paying my debts, I am finishing paying it off and this business is theirs, so they don't start empty-handed suffering like I did.” For Wilma, coming to SOS Children's Villages made a difference in her life.

“My life has changed a lot now because I have support thanks to the project (of SOS Children's Villages); it is a huge help for me. It is a safe place where my children are more secure, and they have helped me. I also have this ice cream shop because they have given me courses and training projects to encourage me. I am happy with all that I have grown, and I realize that I have grown not only myself but also in my business, and I feel good.” Wilma is a mother, an entrepreneur, and a brave woman who shows us that strong conviction and willpower are necessary to get ahead.

*Name has been changed to protect child’s privacy.

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