I am always drawn to kids – in school, at McDonalds (not that we have one here), at church, on the street… it doesn’t matter where. Through the years so many kids have filtered through our nutrition program. Some come in because they aren’t receiving enough nutrition from their mothers, some were born with birth defects, some families struggle to provide food for their children, some have constant illness because of their living conditions. In Guatemala, it is customary not to name your baby until you know that they are going to live. The death rate for children under that age of two is very high. When asking for birth history, we always ask for number of pregnancies, and then number of living children. Although the economy has gotten better since the end of the war and we aren’t seeing as much starvation, there is always present a sense of panic when it comes to food.
Today we had a young couple bring their baby in because he was under five pounds and two months old. He had been born with a cleft lip and palate, more common in this culture than in others. This was their first and although they knew he was different, they were unsure of what to do. The mother had come to us for her ultrasound and so they returned with their son to find out what they could do for him. I will give them credit. They knew he needed to eat and could not nurse and so they cut a hole in the bottle and had been buying formula for him. Because he couldn’t suck, he was receiving 3 ounces of milk for the whole day. This explained why he was struggling. It is these kids that I hope to be able to help the most. These kids that I see that have little hope without a small amount of intervention. Here is Domingo. The goal is to get him growing enough to be able to do his surgery the next time a cleft lip and palate team comes to Guatemala.
And here is Ana. At 6 years old, she only weighs 24 pounds. She can hold her head up and swallow soft foods. She is progressing slowly, but may never grow.
Juan is in second grade and very shy. For months he would not even talk to me. Now he will answer my questions and almost smile. He is a child that has struggled to grow.
Maria is a sweetie! She has been coming to clinic for almost three years because she was born with a cleft lip and palate as well. The lip has been fixed and she is awaiting surgery for her palate still. She walks in with her arms up smiling because she is so familiar with the routine – making me smile each time!
Alino is another interesting case for me. He is a twin, with a sister who has brown hair and brown eyes. We call him my son because of this light hair, eyes and complexion. Twins in this culture often receive help because the mom can’t provide enough milk to keep up with the growth of her kids.
Edy’s mom brought him in knowing that something was wrong with his development. He is blind and has poor muscle control. We will help her care for him and hope to be able to provide a basic physical therapy program to help him progress as he grows.
These triplets were born to a poor family in one of the villages. Manuela, Maria and Andrea have been with us since before they were born and have thrived as we have helped the family care for them. It took them two years, but they no longer scream when they enter the clinic. What a joy to see them doing well!
Oliver is a Down’s Syndrome baby that was recently born in San Andres. He has failed to put on weight and so we are monitoring his growth and helping his mother care for him as his development is slightly delayed.
Those are just a few of the kids that I weighed today as we served those people in San Andres.