Health
 Guatemala
Project #7067

Rescue a Malnourished Child in Guatemala

by The GOD'S CHILD Project
Vetted
Gerson David nearly died of pneumonia
Gerson David nearly died of pneumonia

Baby Gerson was born on March 16, 2011 and arrived into this world with relatively few complications. Unfortunately, given the circumstances in which his family was struggling to survive, Gerson faced many obstacles from the very beginning.

Gerson is one of nine siblings living in the home of his parents, Manuela and Manuel. Modest does not begin to describe the one room shack where the entire family of 11 resides –two beds, a dirt floor, walls made of scrap metal and held together with pieces of garbage that the children have salvaged from the fields. Ten days after Gerson was born, Manuela returned to picking peas with her husband. With a monthly household income of barely 100USD, missing just one day of work in the fields meant an even greater struggle to put food on the table.

Shortly after Manuela returned to the fields, Gerson came down with a cough. Manuela and Manuel took him to a local clinic and he was given medicine, but a number of days passed and he was still unable to shake it. His condition worsened and they took Gerson to a hospital in a nearby community where he was hospitalized for eight days with pneumonia. He managed to recover from the pneumonia, but the struggle left Gerson incredibly weak. He was sent home and prescribed vitamins, but they did little to give the baby more energy. Upon returning home to less than acceptable living conditions, Gerson came down with a fever, his cough returned, and a more serious case of pneumonia took hold of his fragile little body.

Manuela and Manuel did not know what to do – they went hungry so that their nine children could eat. Their wages would never be sufficient to cover the costs of Gerson´s recovery in a hospital, but they knew if he stayed in the home he would not survive. A family member had taken her baby to Casa Jackson and following her advice, Manuela and Manuel arrived at the front steps of our hospital for malnourished infants. His situation was very grave and with the help of our pediatrician, Gerson was hospitalized in nearby Antigua. He spent 17 days in the hospital, the doctors skeptical that he would even survive. His condition eventually stabilized and he was sent back to Casa Jackson to gain weight, improve nutrition, and foster his development.

Gerson came to Casa Jackson as little more than a skeleton, but he returned home as a healthy baby boy with a real chance at living a full life. His fighting spirit and will to survive carried him through this difficult time and even after everything he has lived, his smile still lights up the room. Casa Jackson exists because of the generous support of our benefactors. Casa Jackson continues to save the lives of babies just like Gerson because of the generous donations we receive from people like YOU.

Rescue a malnourished baby TODAY – donate to Casa Jackson and help save Guatemala´s most precious resource.

Gerson arrived at Casa as a skeleton
Gerson arrived at Casa as a skeleton
Manuel, Gersons father visited frequently
Manuel, Gersons father visited frequently
With much love and care, Gerson began to recover
With much love and care, Gerson began to recover
Baby Gerson happy and healthy!
Baby Gerson happy and healthy!
Mother, father, and baby Gerson ready to go home!
Mother, father, and baby Gerson ready to go home!

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Shortly after arriving to Casa Jackson
Shortly after arriving to Casa Jackson

Silvia greets us at her front door with a smile and invites us to sit on the bed in her small but well-kept one-bedroom house where she lives with her husband and two little boys. We gently ask her to tell us about the birth of her youngest son, Jose Emanuel. Lowering her gaze, she smiles at the beautiful baby sitting in her lap. At the same time, a sadness flickers across her face as she begins to recount the all too recent battle to save the life of Jose Emanuel.

“Just a skeleton,” Sylvia thought, when she saw her baby boy for the first time on July 26, 2011. Jose Emanuel was born premature and with Down's Syndrome and spent the first 18 days of his life in the hospital. He was released and sent home, but it was then that the complications really began. Sylvia and her husband didn't understand anything about Down's Syndrome, how to care for a baby with the condition, or how it was going to affect their lives and that of their newborn. Jose Emanuel wouldn't eat, he never stopped crying, and his mother didn't know what to do. His health quickly deteriorated and the family returned to the hospital and admitted Jose Emanuel into intensive care. The doctor took one look at her baby and told Sylvia that Jose Emanuel wouldn't recover. His fever was so high that at one point he actually stopped breathing and the entire room thought he had passed away. They placed the baby in an ice bath and miraculously, Jose Emanuel began to breathe again. Another eight days in the hospital and the doctors sent the family home once again – no more prepared or educated than the first time to care for their fragile baby boy.

Sylvia still didn't know how to feed her baby; and after so many hospital visits and medical exams she and her husband weren't even able to afford the baby formula he so desperately needed. Jose Emanuel lost more weight and grew sicker everyday, until finally the hospital referred his case to Casa Jackson. Sylvia knew that Jose Emanuel would only survive if she left him in their care, but her heart broke when she had to walk away from him for the first time. What came next was even harder for Sylvia to understand – the idea that social workers and medical staff questioned the love she had for her child, the belief that she may have been negligent in his care, and the reality that he might be taken away from her.

Over the next four months, Jose Emanuel was nursed back to health by the dedicated staff and loving volunteers at Casa Jackson. Sylvia never missed an opportunity to spend time with her baby, and although money was scarce she made the trip to see him every week. She spent time with the doctors, nurses, and spoke with the social workers, who finally concluded that she was in fact a fit and loving mother – she simply needed to learn how to properly care for Jose Emanuel. Every week, Sylvia watched how the nurses fed him his bottle, how they bathed him, and how they administered his physical therapy. Jose Emanuel struggled every day with a build-up of phlegm in his lungs. The apparatus to help clear his lungs and allow him to breathe was expensive, and although he couldn't live without it, the family couldn't have dreamed of affording it. Volunteers at Casa Jackson raised the money among themselves to buy Jose Emanuel the machine. Each visit, Sylvia asked more questions and the nurses told her everything they knew about Down's Syndrome. “It was shameful for me,” recalls Sylvia, “What mother doesn't know how to care for her own child?” But every week it became easier and Sylvia felt more comfortable and more capable. She says that when he was first born she cried a lot and that she feared for Jose Emanuel because he would always be different. At Casa Jackson, Sylvia began to reflect and realized that their family has been blessed. “For us, Jose Emanuel is normal. He is what we have been given and we will fight for him. If we fight for him, he is going to be an even better little boy than all the rest.”

While Jose Emanuel was recovering in Casa Jackson, a service team from Nuestros Ahijados raised enough money to build the family a new house. When he was finally released, the family had a safe, dry, and clean home to take him to. Sylvia and her husband never dreamed of having their own home, “I am grateful from the bottom of my heart and always will be. This house... Casa Jackson...the nurses... they are like gifts that fell from heaven.”

Casa Jackson is home to some of the sickest and most malnourished babies in Guatemala. With your donations, we continue to provide refuge for babies like Jose Emanuel. Every contribution makes a difference in the loves of the little patients that call Casa Jackson home.

Jose Emanuel severly malnourished
Jose Emanuel severly malnourished
Sylvia, Jose Emanuel, and brother Angel Gabriel
Sylvia, Jose Emanuel, and brother Angel Gabriel
Jose Emanuel happy and healthy
Jose Emanuel happy and healthy

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Mariangel Guadalupe BEFORE
Mariangel Guadalupe BEFORE

During Global Giving's Matching Campaign (June 13), every donation you send to the tiny babies at Casa Jackson will be matched at 50%! Even a donation of $10 helps our project compete for a $1000 bonus for having the most individual donors. Please, take a moment on June 13 to donate to the children at Casa Jackson. Without your love and financial support, we wouldn't have success stories like these recent patients:

Mariangel Guadalupe AFTER
Mariangel Guadalupe AFTER
Andrea BEFORE
Andrea BEFORE
Andrea AFTER
Andrea AFTER
Jose Emanuel BEFORE
Jose Emanuel BEFORE
Jose Emanuel AFTER
Jose Emanuel AFTER

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Beto
Beto's Birthday Party

On May 23, we celebrated the third birthday of a very special little boy nicknamed "Beto." Alberto came to us in March 2011 at 22 months old, weighing only 13 lbs. Not only did our sweet Beto survive, he has thrived with the medical care, love, and (LOTS OF) attention he has received throughout the past 15 months at Casa Jackson. We all had a wonderful time celebrating Alberto, and he had a wonderful time being the center of attention throughout his first ever birthday party.


We first introduced you to Beto last year, but his continued presence at Casa Jackson has truly made him part of our family. His parents, unable to care for him, stopped coming to visit Alberto many months ago and we've been looking for a permanent home for him since then.

Recently, a distant relative came to visit us after Alberto's mother reached out to her. Mayra, who is technically one of Beto's cousins, lives near the Pacific coast with her husband and their five children. Although their home is small, their hearts are big enough to accept Alberto into their family.

We're taking our time to introduce Beto to Mayra and her family. She comes to visit nearly every day and Alberto's really warmed up to her, as he eventually does with everyone he meets. As he blew out his birthday candles, our staff and volunteers made the silent wish that next year Beto would celebrate his birthday in a real home, surrounded by a loving family.

Links:

In Memory of Frank Lisandro
In Memory of Frank Lisandro

Frank was gravely ill when he came to Casa Jackson. The 10-year-old boy with very devoted parents had been living a nightmare for the last 2 months. Frank had always been a healthy, happy boy who loved going to school and playing soccer with his friends, his parents told us. You wouldn't know it, looking at this little boy who weighed less than 50 lbs.

Frank started complaining of strong headaches towards the end of last school year. His parents, poor and uneducated, didn't have many options, so they took him to a public hospital where care is free but sub-standard. The doctors told Frank's parents that they needed to perform brain surgery.His parents didn't really understand the terminology the doctors were using, and didn't know what questions to ask before consenting. Following surgery, Frank lost his appetite and only ate a couple of spoonfuls of food and liquid each day. He was now too weak to walk, stand, or sit on his own, and even speaking was painful.

Since the surgery, Frank’s parents were going without food to purchase his medicine. His father, a carpenter, was working 18 hours a day to earn money; while his mother stayed by his bedside. They brought him to several  hospitals and clinics. They were turned away each time until a doctor told them about Casa Jackson. It was hard for them to believe that we would try to help Frank at no cost. His father tried to repay us by offering to use his carpentry skills to build anything we needed, and offered for his wife to work as our maid.

Only a couple of days after Frank was admitted, he suffered a series of large seizures in the middle of the night and was rushed to a near-by hospital. Tests revealed that Frank had a large brain tumor. Casa Jackson staff used their connections to arrange an appointment with a well-known neurologist in Guatemala City, to find out if the tumor was operable and if Frank would survive long enough to have the surgery.

The day of the appointment, Frank must have known his time was limited. He kept telling his father that he just wanted to go home. Fifteen minutes after we gently placed Frank in his bed at home, he passed away surrounded by his loving parents, sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

The staff and volunteers at Casa Jackson share his family's profound grief but also their hope that Frank is now at peace. We wish this story had a different ending but, unfortunately, not every story is a success. Sometimes, children come to us too late to help. Despite our best efforts and well-connected medical network, we can't save them. These moments are thankfully few, but definitely the hardest at Casa Jackson. But they also remind us why this work is so vitally important in Guatemala. We work in memory of children like Frank, who came to us far too late and left us far too soon.

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Organization Information

The GOD'S CHILD Project

Location: Bismarck, ND - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.godschild.org
Project Leader:
Melissa Schroden
Antigua, Sacatepequez Guatemala
$124,671 raised of $150,000 goal
 
 
2,584 donations
$25,329 to go
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