One Silent Night

Betty Gebre - Ecuador


November 21, 2012

It was a semi-normal night for me in Ecuador when a conversation I had not anticipated started to unravel with my host-mom. It was a holiday week and my host-siblings were at their grandmas for the week so the house was unusually silent. My host-dad had decided to hang out with his friends than to join my host-mom and I for dinner, leaving only us two in the house for the night. After my host-dad left we prepared our dinner of rice and a can of tuna. Since my host-dad was not eating dinner with us we had not bothered to set up the table, so we sat in the corner of the room to eat our dinner. While taking a bit of my dinner I look up and see my host-mom tearing up and before I know it she start telling me her life story.  She said, “It is hard being a woman in a marriage” and then she wished she would have gotten her education before getting pregnant.

My host-mom was fourteen when she got “married” (in Ecuador many couples don’t officially get married, they just live together), fifteen when she had her first child, seventeen when she had her second child. Her first husband was not a good man so she left him and at twenty-two she had her third child and at twenty-four she had her twins with her second husband. Her second husband got arrested and at twenty-five she met my host-dad and at twenty-eight she had her sixth child, who passed away ten days after birth.

From the first day I learned that my host-mom fell under the category of women in Ecuador who have children at a young age, I starting to admire her. But after our conversation, I not only realized how admirable my host-mom was, but how she was also a very strong woman. She’s been in unhealthy relationships all her life, had to give  her twins  to their grandmother because of her lack of income to take care of them, had encountered verbal and physical abuse, had to bury a child, and was raising her children with a men who was not their father. What I taught was amazing was the fact the throughout all of her hardship, she had not given up on her dream of a better life for her kids, but she was determined to provide them with the tools they needed to obtain one. Especially for her daughter, she said, “I do not want my daughter to have my life; I want to see her travel the world, get educated and have a family when she’s old enough to take care of them.”

Then I thought about all of the women I would encounter during my time and work with the women in my community and I became curious of their stories. In my mind they no longer were just figures and facts, but they were, themselves each a story and a symbol of strength and determination.

Betty Gebre