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Cristal: Finding hope and healing in Colombia

At just 17, Cristal became pregnant for the first time. The young woman lived in Venezuela at this time, where life had become a daily struggle. With a newborn child and siblings to support, Cristal, barely out of high school, found herself trapped in a deteriorating economic and political climate. Hoping for a better life for her family, she left her home country and settled in Santa Marta, Colombia. Migrating was a difficult decision, but it was one Cristal had to make. "My family did not agree that I should leave Venezuela, I was too young to make that decision, but the situation in my country forced me to do it. I had the support of my boyfriend who lived in Colombia, he was the one who took me in," she says.

But being undocumented in Colombia brought its own set of challenges. Finding work was tough for the now 23-year-old woman, and adapting to a new environment added another layer of stress. With much effort, she managed to find a job as a domestic worker and began saving to be able to bring her son to Colombia. Then, just as she began to settle in, she discovered she was pregnant again. Joy quickly turned to worry. Could she support another child on her meager salary? What if complications arose? As an undocumented migrant, accessing regular healthcare seemed out of reach.

Going through difficult times

During the first weeks of pregnancy, Cristal experienced slight bleeding and pelvic pain that made her uneasy. Thanks to a fellow Venezuelan, she learned about the free medical care Malteser International offers in Santa Marta. After blood tests and ultrasounds, the medical team diagnosed an ectopic pregnancy, requiring urgent treatment. In the prenatal program, Cristal not only received medical care but also benefitted from psychosocial support, helping her navigate potential depressive episodes.

Despite the efforts made, Cristal's delayed access to treatment resulted in miscarriage. The medical and psychological team continued to provide assistance for her recovery, both physically and emotionally. "I fell into a deep depression over the loss of my baby. If I had found Malteser International sooner, maybe things would have been different. But despite the loss, their therapy sessions helped me understand that life had to go on. My son needed me." she says.

Renewed hope

In 2023, Cristal experienced pregnancy again, renewing the hope of seeing her family grow. Without hesitation, she turned to Malteser International, where she was reintegrated into the prenatal care program. This program is designed to provide care to migrants from Venezuela, refugees and Colombian returnees, monitoring their pregnancies and providing medical care.

Prenatal check-ups, ultrasounds, medications, specialized consultations - all are provided free of charge. In addition, malnourished mothers and their babies also receive nutrition support. "From the very beginning, I received exceptional care," says Cristal. "They even called me to remind me of my follow-up appointments. And if I couldn't make it, they offered home visits. I am eternally grateful to Malteser International. Thanks to them I gave birth to a healthy child."

Cristal's story shows that even in the most difficult situations, there is always room for hope. With your donation, you can directly contribute to supporting the health and well-being of women and mothers worldwide.

(March 2024)

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