María José was born in a small, poor town in Chiquimula (on the eastern coast of Guatemala). Her father died in a terrible accident, leaving her fatherless at the age of 12 years old. Two years later, Maria’s mother died of womb cancer after which she was forced to live under her grandmother’s care. Without her grandmother, there is a greater than normal chance that Maria could have been picked up in the streets and sold into human trafficking. Despite these hardships, she eventually moved to Guatemala City where she could realize her desire to work and study.
It was in Guatemala City that Maria met the father of her child. She was able to find work, but the income was very low and hardly enough to support a baby. Eventually, the father was kidnapped and murdered, leaving Maria once again desperate and alone without knowing what to do. She needed to feed her child and didn’t have any money to do so; besides that, she was feeling fearful in that big city after the horror that fell upon the father of her child.
Maria decided to move again and chase a fresh start to a new life, this time to a smaller city. She landed a job in a restaurant and worked there for several years without any problems. She felt that for the first time her life was changing for the better and that she was going to be able to give her child a better future.
That is until one night, while she was working late, Maria was alone in the restaurant when a man came in, pretending to be a client. When she turned away to prepare his order, the man suddenly knocked Maria on her back and attacked her. She was subsequently raped, suffering not only physical harm but left to deal with the haunting psychological effects too. As a result, Maria got pregnant again, making her life more difficult to deal with now that a second child was on the way with no means to provide adequate care.
After being treated at the National Hospital, the Office of Violence Against Women referred her to a place to receive psychological treatment as well as education, that place being Asociación Nuestros Ahijados. When cases like Maria’s are brought to our attention, we act as quickly as possible. For Maria, we were able to provide legal support, psychological aid, and food and education for her older child. We rescued Maria from the risks she and her children faced everyday living in that area by providing a safe place to live and protecting both of her children from poverty, an unhealthy environment, and the risk of being sold into slavery.
Currently, Maria José is involved with our programs, receiving all the support she can from Asociación Nuestros Ahijados of Guatemala.