Photography: Joey O’Loughlin
Many of the nearly 28 million teenagers who live in the Andean region of South America are growing up in lives of poverty and alienation. As they turn from children into adults, too many lack hope, goals for the future, a real chance to develop their full human potential. For these teens, having a baby can look like a way to escape from their world of dejection and violence.
Today in the Andean region, 18% of all girls between 15 and 19 years of age are pregnant or have already become mothers. Pregnancy this early in life puts the health of both mother and child at risk, and limits a young woman’s opportunity to have a full and productive life.
Preventing teen pregnancy means connecting with young women and men, empowering them to become the protagonists of their own life stories. Effective programs establish strong bonds between young people and their teachers, health professionals, parents, and friends. When teenagers develop strong relationships in a secure, safe environment, they can build the life skills they need to take control of their own destiny and contribute to their communities.
These poignant and inspiring images reveal the challenges that teenagers face every day, the difficult choices they make, and the people who are committed to changing their lives and expanding their opportunities. They illuminate the pervasive and multifaceted problem of adolescent pregnancy: one that can only be solved by adults and young people working together.
These photos are a product of the Andean Plan to Prevent Adolescent Pregnancy, an initiative of the ministries of health of Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Perú and Venezuela, under the coordination of the Andean Health Organism. Financed by the Spanish International Cooperation Agency for Development, the Plan is implemented by the United Nations Population Fund in collaboration with the Ibero-American Youth Organization, and Family Care International.
We are most grateful to all of those people who made this show possible by helping us in the planning stages and by opening their homes, hearts and lives to us.