Truthfully, every day at Medical Teams is Mother’s Day. Our maternal and child health programs are a cornerstone of our work. We believe every woman deserves the dignity of health care. And the reality is that women are the foundation of many of the communities we serve. When a woman is healthy, her entire community becomes healthier too.

But mothers are special. If you are a mother, have a mother — or a mother figure in your life — you know what an important role they play. That’s why this Mother’s Day we’re bringing you a story of a mother in Colombia who sacrificed everything for her daughter. When she needed help caring for herself, Medical Teams stepped in.

Read on to hear more from Yamileth, and learn about how you can support women like her this Mother’s Day!

Meet Yamileth

Yamileth, a mother in Colombia, smiles in her new neighborhood. Photo by Lina Hernandez.

“I had my whole life there,” Yamileth says wistfully, thinking of Venezuela. “It’s not relevant to repeat the situation my country is in. But that was my world.”

Yamileth has a wide smile and is quick to laugh, despite the challenges she’s faced. Before Venezuela’s economic collapse, Yamileth had a full life. She was a preschool teacher, then a dental assistant. She and her husband built a beautiful house with a pool for their two daughters, the light of their lives. But then, everything changed.

Yamileth says,

“It was a very hard decision. But the money was not enough to eat.”

Soon, Yamileth and her family were focused on survival. Her marriage was strained, and she was terrified for her daughters. When Yamileth’s sister went to Colombia and sent word that it was safer, with more opportunity, Yamileth decided to send her older daughter to be with her. At 17, Yamileth’s daughter, Maykerlin, was already independent. But it was difficult for Maykerlin to find a job, and she struggled to get care for her asthma. Yamileth worried they would starve or fall ill without anywhere to go for help.

Yamileth decided to bring her younger daughter, Kelymar, to Colombia too. They were still struggling in Venezuela, and it was difficult for the sisters to be separated. After a terrifying trip on foot across the border, the family was finally reunited in Colombia.

Making a new life, together

Though Yamileth struggled to find her footing after leaving Venezuela, she was astounded by the availability of goods in Colombia. She says, “Here in Colombia, you work to eat and live well, but not for luxuries. Instead, in Venezuela, you work just to eat. There’s a big difference in that sense. When I went out for the first time to the supermarket in Colombia with money, and I wondered, ‘what am I going to do with this?’ It was a blessing when I realized that here you can buy various things…in Venezuela, there’s not enough.”

Yamileth’s true joy though was the reunion between her daughters when she and Kelymar finally made it to Colombia. The time apart had taken its toll on both mother and daughters.

Yamileth says,

“When we arrived, the greatest happiness and joy was to see my daughters hugging. We were together again.”

Still, Kelymar struggled to fit in at her new school in Colombia. Maykerlin had trouble enrolling in the health care system in Colombia, so her asthma was still going untreated. And Yamileth herself was having a hard time overcoming her grief over leaving Venezuela.

Finding Medical Teams

Getting support from a community health workers made an enormous different for Yamileth’s family! Photo by Lina Hernandez.

Happily, Yamileth saw a poster for Medical Teams in a nearby neighborhood. She reached out to get help for Maykerlin, whose asthma was becoming severe. From their first appointment with Medical Teams, Yamileth was impressed – and relieved!

Yamileth says,

“The service is excellent, from the staff to the location where the services are provided…with you, I feel at home.”

Maykerlin and Kelymar both were able to see a provider for the first time in many years. They were able to get vaccinations, health education, and other routine check-ups they’d gone without in Venezuela. Yamileth was happy to have them finally receive services.

But she was also struggling herself. Yamileth was experiencing depression. She says, “I had everything here, but something was missing. I had a depression inside that I didn’t even understand myself.”

Yamileth was feeling the psychological impact of the last few years. It’s not an uncommon experience for people who have been forced to make the decision to leave home. That’s why Medical Teams in Colombia launched a campaign to share about their mental health program through their WhatsApp groups of people from Venezuela. That’s how Yamileth was connected to a counselor.

She says, “I feel great…I have been taught breathing and thinking exercises. I get up in the morning and say a few words. When I go to bed, I give thanks and see the positive things around me.”

Celebrating mothers like Yamileth on Mother’s Day

Mothers like Yamileth, here with her daughter Maykerlin, are who we’re celebrating this Mother’s Day! Photo by Lina Hernandez.

Mothers like Yamileth — who put themselves before their children — are the kind we serve every day. But as with Yamileth, our goal is to help mothers see how necessary it is to care for themselves, too. When Yamileth was able to get mental health care, she was happier and healthier. In turn, her daughters were too. Now, she’s excited to welcome her first grandchild and hopes to someday to return to Venezuela.

No matter what the future holds, Yamileth knows they’ll stay together. She says,

“I believe it was worth leaving everything, because I am with my two daughters. We will continue here together, never separated.”

On Mother’s Day and always, we celebrate and care for mothers and their children. It’s one of the pillars of our care and a core belief at Medical Teams! Happy Mother’s Day to all families, including the ones we serve.

If you’d like to join a compassionate community of people who champion the health of women and children around the world, consider joining Healthy Women, Healthy World!

photo of Lauren Hobson


Lauren Hobson
Copywriter & Editor