Advent calendar prayer and reflection for 19 December

Blanca and her daughter at the Ana Manganaro clinic. The baby is having her heart listened to with a stethoscope

Blanca received vital care from the Ana Manganaro clinic in El Salvador during each of her pregnancies.

“Your wife Elizabeth is to bear you a son and you must name him John.” 

Luke 1:13

In today’s readings we follow the moments when Samson’s mother and John the Baptist’s father hear that they are going to become parents.

Throughout history, and no matter where they are in the world today, parents want what is best for their children. But vulnerable women in remote areas are often the least likely to receive adequate healthcare.

Blanca is a mother of three living in Guarjila, northern El Salvador. She has received vital care from the CAFOD-supported Ana Manganaro clinic during each of her pregnancies. The clinic specialises in maternal and child health, as well as nutrition.

Blanca says, “Whenever I’ve arrived here, they have always taken care of me.”

The clinic has set up a Maternity Waiting Home for women in their final weeks of pregnancy. The home prioritises women who are high risk and live in hard-to-reach places, with the aim of reducing complications in childbirth.

They have also set up organic gardens to improve the nutrition of mothers and babies, which the families are encouraged to copy at home. Blanca has lots of exciting plans for what she would like to grow, and she can see many advantages to having her own garden:

“The home garden will help our family finances because if you have a home garden you don’t need to go out and buy vegetables.” She adds, “Giving children a good diet means they develop healthily.”

During the pandemic, the clinic has also been using CAFOD funds to raise awareness among local communities about the importance of hand washing, social distancing and face masks.  

This Advent, we remember all parents throughout the world caring for their children in challenging situations.

Advent prayer

Heavenly Father, watch over all parents throughout the world, especially those facing poverty or conflict. Grant them strength and the help and support that they need, so that their children may flourish. Amen.


Find ideas, activities and resources for busy parents to share with their children on the families page of our website. Let the parents in your life know or use the ideas with your own children to get involved with CAFOD.

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