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Once the social organization was structured, the foundation began to implement the different models of intervention that are based on 2 main objectives. The first objective is to reduce child mortality through the Crib Sponsorship Program and the Juan Felipe Medical Center, and the second objective is to train teenage mothers through the Teenage Mothers Program and the Teenage Mothers Extension Program.

From the start, Escobar noticed that 70% of the mothers she was working with were between the ages of 14 and 16. Most lived in the slums outside of the city, which have grown during the last decade as people have fled violence in the northern areas of the country.

Child at Dentist

She realized that the only way to ensure the long-term health of the children was to enable these teenage girls to break the cycle of poverty, which she is hoping to change through her teen mothers program, which aims to teach young women how to support themselves and their children. It started with just 30 girls in 2002 and grows with each passing year. 400 pregnant teens and young mothers now enroll each year.

Young mothers come to the center every weekday and leave their babies at the daycare while they attend classes, receive instruction on basic hygiene and learn how to care for their infants. The girls and their children are given a hot, hearty lunch.

During the first six months, the teens take part in therapy sessions to help them understand their new reality and responsibilities. The Teen Pregnancy Model is a holistic approach that includes access to rights, psychological counseling, secondary level schooling and vocational training. The center also teaches teenage mothers about reproductive health and contraception.

Dr. checking girls leg

While the program aims to prevent future pregnancies, Escobar also wants to give these young mothers the tools they need to change their lives. The girls can finish high school on site, take computer classes or learn vocational skills like sewing or jewelry making. The teens also make and sell products at the center's bakery, which helps fund the program, and the foundation offers micro-loans to help them start their own businesses.

The program aims to find jobs for the mothers, or provides them scholarships to help them continue their education at a trade school or university. The teens return to the center every week so Escobar's staff can track their progress and assist with any problems. Within two to four years,

The Foundation is always looking for more ways to have more impact. In 2005, a medical clinic was built that has provided health care to more than 84,000 low-income residents of the community, mostly young mothers and their children. There are also plans to build an early childhood education center where the girls can bring their children ages 1-5.

For more information please visit: www.juanfe.org

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