The challenges that face South Africa seem overwhelming, but the solution to many of our social problems often starts with the simple love of a parent.
Carmen’s story is one example of how a mother’s love can change the trajectory of a family’s course.
It’s a sunny Autumn morning and Carmen sits on the floor of her home in Capricorn playing with her 8-month-old son, Matthew.
She kisses his chubby cheeks and he giggles delightedly. Watching them together, it’s hard to believe that Carmen almost gave Matthew up for adoption.
At six months pregnant with her third child, Carmen felt she had nowhere to turn.
The alcohol she’d started using as a teenager to dull out her problems was now consuming all her money and draining her life.
But then one Monday, while Carmen was recovering from a hangover, two women knocked on her door. They invited her to an Early Childhood Development programme for pregnant women at a nearby centre.
With nothing else to do that day, Carmen agreed to attend, not realising that this decision would change her life.
“At the programme, they gave me devotions to read and homework to do,” Carmen recalls. “I was so excited. Suddenly it felt like I had a purpose. There were people out there who cared for me.”
“We started learning about God and our identity,” Carmen explains. “During one session, I felt a sudden warmth come over me, as though someone were shining a light deep inside me.
“That was the day I decided to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. I decided to stop drinking and to be a mother to my unborn baby.
“My children are now 8 months, 7 and 17. For the first time, I feel the joy of being a mother. Before, my older sons wouldn’t want to be seen out with me, but now we sit and talk for hours at the beach or in the gardens.
“Even though I don’t have much, I know that Jesus has a plan for my life.”