By Jean-Wickens Morene; Edited by Leanna Cappiello
Ronaldo, a proud, beaming teenager, sits on the couch next to his mother in a humble slum that serves as their home.
When Ronaldo was 13, he became the sole breadwinner for his mother, father and two sisters. "The family's expenses were on his shoulders," admits Viola, mother of three.
At that time, most of Viola's energy was spent on caring for her husband who could no longer work because of a car accident. He passed away several months ago.
After the death of his father, Ronaldo's responsibilities at work became the only income for the family. His work would leave him neglecting his studies. "I would often forget my lessons even though I studied several times," he said.
Ronaldo would work in a grain mill, ploughing and carrying water to earn a salary. His workday yielded on an average of 125 gourds ($3 USD).
The regional child protection project through World Vision, which began in 2014, aims to protect vulnerable children against abuse, exploitation and neglect. It also helps children and families that are challenged by daily issues, such as scarce drinking water, electricity and job opportunities, reach the resources they need.
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Thanks to this project and Canadian donors, Viola was able to get support in starting her own business. "I buy and resell livestock, peas, vegetables, a little of everything," she says with a smile, surrounded by her three children. "Feeding my house is no longer a concern for me today since I have a source of income," she says.
Now, Ronaldo is 15. He has more time to study, be part of school activities and just have fun. This pleases his mother tremendously.
"I don't feel ashamed any longer to look into the eyes of kids of my age in the community," says Ronaldo proudly. "I want to finish my education and then become a judge," the boy says.
Viola is encouraged by the support she has been given, and now has more hope for her children's futures. "With perseverance they can achieve their goals," she says.