Eva’s family home in Guatemala was filled with so much abuse and violence that it almost cost her mother’s life. Guatemala has one of the highest rates of violent deaths among women in the world. But a Compassion initiative, that helps to stop domestic violence, transformed their family’s life forever. 

Prisons do not always look like jail cells. A prison can be a home. Seventeen-year-old Eva’s home in Guatemala was until she found freedom at Tearfund’s partner Compassion’s centre.

Eva’s mother, Yolanda, was intrigued by the Child Sponsorship Programme run by the local church through Tearfund's partner Compassion International, and was invited to register her eldest daughter, Eva. Yolanda’s initial excitement was quickly tempered by fear of her husband’s reaction. 

“I was interested in the centre,” Yolanda says. “I saw how other children of the community learned Bible stories and their behaviour was better, but my husband didn’t allow us to go to church because he said they were fake people. If I did something without his consent, he would hit me.” 

Despite her misgivings, she registered Eva but lied to her husband.  When her husband became suspicious about where Eva was going, Yolanda bravely told him the truth. To her surprise, he agreed and said nothing about it. 

 Eva’s father came home one night and tried to kill Yolanda with a knife. Her desperate cries alerted her neighbour, Zuly. 

 I somehow found the strength to hold his arms and run outside screaming for help. The neighbours went to the house and called the police,” Yolanda, says. 
Eva-Blog-body-3.jpgEva with her mum Yolanda and siblings

The situation alarmed Zuly, who wanted to put a stop to domestic violence in the community. With the support of the local church, she founded Parents’ School in 2017, which aims to stop domestic violence and encourage families to value their wives and children. 

When her father returned, Eva felt very alone. She prayed and asked for God’s help, and something incredible happened. “I heard the voice of God saying, ‘You need to be strong. Keep fighting. I will make you a victorious woman,’” Eva says. This encouraged Eva to be strong and every time she felt sad, she would pray for strength. 

After a few months of classes, parents of other children in the Child Sponsorship Programme attended the Parents’ School and felt compelled to encourage Yolanda’s husband to change his behaviour. 

A group of caregivers confronted him about his violence towards his family, saying that if he kept hitting Yolanda, they would use the law to keep him in prison for life. 

Days later, Nelson had a dream that transformed his life. 

“After these Christian men spoke to me, I dreamt about God and he showed me, my family,” he says. “God said I need to stop making them suffer or he will take my life in his hands. I was scared of that dream. I prayed and asked to be forgiven.” 

The next day, Nelson woke up and threw out the drugs and alcohol he had at home. He showered, cut his hair and decided to make a change. He spoke with his family and asked to be forgiven of the horrible things he had done. He hugged Eva and promised to work to support the family.  

 Eva and her family could not believe he had found the love of God and the reason to love his family. 

“I am working as a mason,” he says. “With the money I earn, I support my family. This is a new life I’m experiencing and I love it. I decided to go to church, to be part of the Parents’ School and my big desire is to be a leader in the church.” 

Eva-Blog-body-1.jpg
 

 

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