Casa Jackson exists to help infants, children and families recover from chronic malnutrition and reduce the chances of it coming back. While malnutrition can often be attributed to poverty and a lack of education, our children and their families are often affected by many serious issues that make it difficult to keep their children safe and healthy.
In Guatemala, violence against women is widespread. Sadly, each year, we treat a number of infants that were conceived through rape. These mothers try desperately to care for and nourish their children, despite the horror of their conception. Casa Jackson not only provides in-patient medical care for these infants and education for their mothers, but much-needed support, acceptance and often even a safe place for mothers to live while their children recover.
Alex is one of these beautiful babies with a very sad start. His mother was working for a wealthy man in a nearby city, making just enough to care for her young daughter and herself. Her boss forced himself on her. When she became pregnant, he fired her. After Alex was born, she struggled to care for him and his sister. When Alex was 5 months old, she fled the town she was born in with her children and found Casa Jackson.
After one month in Casa Jackson, Alex and his older sister gained weight and were growing properly. Alex was curious, happy and content and his older sister enjoyed playing with all of the babies at Casa Jackson- especially her little brother. Our social worker helped their mother find a kind, generous neighbor who offered to provide the family with food and a safe home in exchange for assistance with laundry and housekeeping. Alex and his family left Casa Jackson recently for this new home. Thanks to the generosity of our many supporters, Alex and his sister are finally free from hunger, and their mother is free from the exploitation and abuse that has marked the past few years of her life.
Casa Jackson has experienced a lot of success this year, thanks to your generous support. Our share of the hospital’s operating cost is covered for this year…and next year! This success translates directly into the number of children we are able to rehabilitate here in Guatemala, a country plagued by childhood malnutrition. Alison is one of these success stories.
When we first met 2-year-old Alison, she didn’t have that mischievous toddler spirit. She should have been running around her family’s tiny house in coastal Escuintla, Guatemala. She should have been quite the handful for her young, single mother, Elizabeth.
But Alison was slowly starving to death. Her mother, with no education or family, earned pennies a day…on a good day. Even when she could afford food, she didn’t know what babies were supposed to eat. When Elizabeth finally sought out help for Alison, she weighed barely 10 pounds.
Alison’s recovery in Casa Jackson was slow. She had to learn how to suck a bottle, how to swallow, how to chew. It took nearly six months for Alison to recover.
The story could end there, with Alison going home healthy. With hopes and prayers that she would continue to grow up strong. A success in the moment but a question mark in the future. But your support has ensured that babies like Alison will continue to receive rehabilitation in Casa Jackson and follow-up visits after they leave, that mothers like Elizabeth will continue to learn about childhood nutrition and parenting.
When we told Elizabeth that it was time for Alison to go home, she didn’t believe us at first. She pointed out all of the things that Alison still needed to learn to be a “normal” 2-year-old. She can’t walk. She still isn’t talking. She can drink from a bottle on her own but can’t feed herself with a spoon.
We promised Elizabeth that our support doesn’t end just because Alison is going home. We explained that this was the beginning of a beautiful partnership between her family and ours. And we vowed to help them succeed in every way that we can.
You are part of this promise we’ve made to Elizabeth. Your partnership allows us to make commitments to Elizabeth and countless other mothers and fathers who want a better life for their children.
One of the many ways we give children a better life is through better nutrition. With your help, we can offer nutrition-based programs in The GOD’S CHILD Project’s other Guatemalan sub-programs that guarantee that Guatemala’s next generation is growing up strong and healthy.
We feed 400 students at our schools three healthy, well-balanced meals every day. We distribute hundreds of pounds of fresh produce and dry goods to our Mothers’ Club every Friday, promising that their children will have plenty of healthy food over the weekend. We teach parents about childhood growth and proper nutrition. Our dentist and doctor see hundreds of patients every month, curing the illnesses and infection that prevent proper growth and development.
In short, your donation to Casa Jackson has helped babies like Alison in a very real way. You have given them a fresh, healthy start at life. But you have also given them the promise that they will continue to grow up strong and smart and healthy for years and years to come. Thank you for the support that you have already given us. We hope that you continue to choose us in the future.
When Elias Ramirez was brought to Casa Jackson’s malnutrition center run by Nuetros Ahijados in Jocotenango, Guatemala, he couldn’t sit up, cry or crawl. Elias suffers from a form of malnutrition called Kwashiorkor, which is a result of a protein deficient diet. At the young age of 21 months, Elias was losing muscle mass, had rashes all over his body and a swollen abdomen.
Elias’s mother, Aleyda Ramirez, is eighteen and currently pregnant with her second child. Not only is Aleyda a teenage mother, but she is unemployed and her spouse is a fisherman with a precarious income. Aleyda and her husband barely manage to visit their child twice per week as the four hour journey from their town called Tecojate is arduous for a family living in poverty. Elias has been staying at Casa Jackson for the last two weeks, where staff and volunteers constantly monitor his vitals and help with his condition. The medical staff and volunteers not only provide medical assistance, but also the tender loving care all infants need in early childhood. Before Elias is released, the staff will insure he is at 110% of the weight of a healthy and nourished child.
Caring for malnourished Guatemalan children is essential for the future of this Central American country, since half of Guatemalan children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition. This issue is something the Casa Jackson Center addresses directly. I know you’re asking yourself, how could my donation help? Your donation would go directly to Casa Jackson’s malnutrition program, which works with families in a comprehensive manner to address their needs. All donations support the critical care and follow-up to identify and diagnose the children, along with follow up care done by nurses and dietitians and the social workers who travel bi-monthly to the homes of these children to follow up directly. Your donations will also go directly toward the vital care for Elias and the other children at Casa Jackson to sustain this integral service in the community.
I share with you today a story about two small “packages” and a wonderful opportunity to support malnourished children: Global Giving is offering a match of 30 percent for all donations received on March 16th, 2011. They will also award a cash prize for the project receiving the most donations.
Among the many joys that come our way in life, nothing compares to the birth of our children. In Guatemala, this also often a time of great challenge for many families. After 20 hours of hard labour, an exhausted mom, Mary, gave birth to precious twin girls. Premature and critically underweight at only three pounds each, they were so tiny that they could each be held in just one hand. No doctor was on-hand for the delivery. The family knew that the local doctor would not come, because they still owed him money for his recent treatment of Mary's father Antonio. The new babies were having difficulty breathing. They were fighting for their lives.
Antonio had just enough money for the journey to Antigua. From his tiny mountain village, eight hours away, he had heard that there was a place that might save his granddaughters' lives. Antonio wrapped the babies in tattered blankets and held them close during the day-long bus ride over the winding and rutted roads. He carried his precious cargo all the way to Casa Jackson.
The babies were two of the smallest ever admitted to Casa Jackson. As with every new patient admitted, we don't know for certain if they will respond to our care, or whether they will recover or not. But we provided them with intensive medical care, specialized baby formula, hugs and love in abundance. With time and love the girls began to open their eyes, move their small fingers and most importantly they began to grow and thrive. They each gained two pounds in their first 3 weeks and now weigh six pounds!
The story of these two very special girls, Maria Jose and Miriam Guadalupe, reflects the vital work of the GOD's CHILD Project. This is only possible with your continued support for the needs of these special children. As Guatemala has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, Maria and Miriam are not alone and this vital work needs to continue.
We need you to make a gift on March 16th so that the joy of happy recoveries can continue. Together with love, prayers and support we can change the world!
(Photos 2-4 courtesy of Christiana Dittmann)
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