Paola (34) is a single Bolivian mother of a daughter (2). Five days a week she works and lives at a boarding school in Gutierrez. In the weekends she stays with her parents in Santa Cruz.


Being a single mom in Bolivia

My daughter’s father and I split up, shortly after she was born. We never married. Even though Bolivia is a Catholic country, it is quite common for couples to be together, without getting married and to separate when the relationship doesn’t work, or if one of them (mostly the man) is cheating. My ex-boyfriend was also seeing other women and as soon as I found out, I broke up with him. He has never wanted to see his daughter ever since.

About 70% of the Bolivian women is suffering from domestic violence. Still, most of them stay with their husbands or boyfriends, because they can not take care of themselves and their children, because they have never had a job. I have always been brought up as an independent girl and woman. So I already had my own job and could make a living on my own. And therefore I was able to end the relationship and keep looking after my daughter.

As women, we have to make sure we can live independantly from men!

Part-time care for my daughter

My parents live in Santa Cruz and my daughter and I could move in with them, when I had to leave my previous house. Or actually, my father mostly lives there. My mother works as a nurse in Potosi, so, just like me, she is only home for the weekends.

I live at the boarding school in Gutierrez, where I work as a nutritionist. From monday until friday I teach and on Friday-afternoon I go home. My daughter goes to Kindergarten, but my father also takes care of her. I am always so happy when I can gold her again on Friday! I miss her a lot, but I know my father loves her a lot and takes very good care of her.

I always look forward to Friday-afternoons when I can hold my daughter again!

Hope for future generations

The most important lessen that I want to teach my daughter, but also the children in our school, is to be independent people. Of course I find it important that the children know how to take care of other people, but they should never forget about themselves. If you are not able to help yourself, for example by getting out of an abusive relationship, how can you ever help anyone else, let alone be an example for your child? I talk about that a lot, especially with the girls in the school. I hope I can be an example for them.

I really hope that the children will look after their own health and that of others, but never forget about their own well-being.

Paola, single mom in Bolivia