My name is Antulia, I am 29 years old, and I live in Quiche, Guatemala. Last year I had a baby, a beautiful baby girl, and although my love for her is the greatest, my path has not been easy, because I am a single mother. I live in a very male centered community. When I decided to go to university, I received a lot of criticism. I remember being told, “a woman has never gotten far for studying, her place is in the house.” We got to a point where we suffered from bullying because I wanted to continue studying, but I stuck to that.
Then, I became pregnant with Andrea. In addition to struggling with machismo (sexism), there was another challenge. My daughter’s father told me to have an abortion, because he was not going to take responsability for the baby. I hid my pregnancy for seven months. One day, I couldn’t take it any more and I told my mother. I received her support, but I was also judged by many. Everyone told me that I would never make it as a single mother, that it would be impossible to continue my studies. I felt desolate and abandoned, I even thought about taking my own life and I had everything planned.
By that moment, I was already participating in the Raices Chapinas (Guatemalan Roots) program. I remember that the day I had decided to take my life, Brenda, the program coordinator called me, and assigned me a task. It was the hope I needed and I decided to continue fighting. A few days later, I was recommended to leave irregularly to the United States, they assured me that it was the only option that we had to stop suffering the comments of the community, and that in addition, my daughter would have better opportunities.
Part of my work in Raices Chapinas is, precisely, to talk about the risks of irregular migration. I give talks and make young people aware of everything that can happen to them, and I could not believe that, at that moment, I was considering going through that risk with my daughter in my belly. I had to gain courage and say no, that I was not leaving. After having learned the risks of irregular migration, the option I was given to flee was inconceivable.
A few weeks after I told about my pregnancy, Andrea was born. It was a premature birth, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me. In the program, and with all of this situation, I learned to be strong. Today, I enjoy every stage of my daughter’s life, and although it is not easy, I know it is not impossible. I know that, as a woman, I must admire myself, know how much I am worth, and that is one of the greatest lessons that I have learned.