Unequal opportunities
Tackling discrimination

When Andrea felt pregnant, she and her mom decided to move from the jungle to the city of Ayacucho. Andrea, her son, mother and sister settled into a rented room and Andrea was invited to the EMMA program for teenage mothers.  

Talking about the topic of education, Andrea was very motivated to go back to school. With some help, her mother got all the necessary documents from her previous school in the jungle to inscribe her in 3rd grade in the city. Andrea was super excited to go back to school, until she became ill and struggled to combine school with the care for her son, as her mother couldn’t watch him while she was working. 

        15 year old Andrea with her one-year old son Zabdiel Salah Vásquez Ambrocio.

Soon andrea was invited along with her mother to the director's office. According to Andrea’s mother, the headmistress began to judge and offend them by saying Andrea could no longer study because they came from the jungle and mentioned that she could not study in that school, as her academic level was lower than in the city. They urged her to go to a CEBA (weekend school), as her baby would be an obstacle and would set a bad example to her classmates.

But the discrimination continued in multiple occasions. Once, she came to school with a short shirt. "They started shouting at me, that this was a religious school. I didn't know it was wrong to dress like that. The teacher asked me how I could dress like that? That mothers don't dress like that and that probably I had a child because of that. “You are a mother, you shouldn't study anymore, you should work” They told my mother was a liar, because she hadn’t told the school from the beginning I had a baby".

"You're a bad example to your classmates." 
"Your baby is an obstacle." 
"You're surely a teenage mother, because of the way you dress." 
"When you're a mother you shouldn't study anymore, you should work." 
"You hided you had a baby." 

When the counselor of the EMMA project intervened, the school denied everything. “The teenager was lying and nobody treated her in such a way”. The same day, in the afternoon, Andrea's was denied access to the school, but when the counselor called again, the headmistress said she was not informed and ended the call. 

"You're a liar and your mother too." 

In another occasion "It was when the Virgin Mary was celebrated and my class had to represent the Virgin Mary of Bolivia. It was last minute, when nobody wanted to represent her and I volunteered (to not get bad marks) that the coordinator passed in front of me, looking me straight in the eyes and stressing that it were "virgins" they represented. I felt very bad because I am very sensitive person and I felt like dropping out of school. I no longer wanted to go to school because of the looks of rejection and mockery. I felt that I didn't belong there".

"You don't belong here." 

 In each conversation, with the counsellor, the school denied everything. Andrea wanted to abandon it all, believing she would be treated in the same way in other schools. In the end she got convinced to go to the CEBA (weekend school), although the previous school still had to provide the necessary documents for her transfer. The psychological aggression was mentioned as the main reason to change schools. At first the mother was motivated to file a complaint, but finally she dropped it.  

Today Andrea is very grateful and more cheerful:

Thanks to the educational support of the EMMA project, they helped me by changing me to another school where I feel good and accepted,. The tutor and the counsellor of EMMA helped me psychologically, gave me confidence in myself and taught me that being a mother is not bad. They helped me in many ways. I feel very grateful and thanks to this help I am still studying. Even though they are not my family, they visit me, they help me and nobody does that. Thank you !!!!”

Meet the maker - Christine Makenga