31% of children in Copán Department suffer from malnutrition. Every few months, we are able to accept a child from our waiting list into our program, and although the children are new, their challenges rarely are. When we met Abel, he was underweight and withdrawn. At 2 years old, Abel hadn’t uttered his first words or learned to walk. Abel’s hair was thin and wispy, light brown in color, and his swollen belly was the only part of his body that almost appeared normal in size for his age.
Abel isn’t alone. Abel was enrolled in Casita Copán with his older brother, Mario, and older sister, Ana Maria. Ana Maria is a sweet, yet diminutive child who looks closer to 3 than her actual 5 years of age. Although he is 10 years old, Abel’s brother Mario started first grade earlier this year. Malnutrition and extreme poverty in their family have set all of the children back a few years in their physical and cognitive development.
Each time a new child joins us, there is always an adjustment period. The bodies of children who are chronically malnourished may at first become sick from taking in normal amounts of food and clean water. The damage done by malnutrition can affect children throughout their entire lives, making it less likely that they will complete school and find work that provides a livable wage. Populations with well-nourished people tend to be more productive and prosperous. In Honduras, parents who are unable to provide for and feed their children may have to leave their children with family members or in orphanages as a last resort.
Each day, we work to help the children become the healthiest versions of themselves possible. Regular, nutritious meals high in protein have helped their bodies gain weight, build muscle, and fight illness. Unlimited clean drinking water and periodic parasite treatment keeps them hydrated and prevents diarrhea. Healthy food, clean water, and preventative health care combined with our education programs help Mario, Ana Maria, and Abel move forward with their education.
After 9 months with us, little Abel now walks, makes short sentences, and greets everyone he meets with a big smile!
Incorporating mothers into our efforts to reduce child hunger is critical. With free, quality daycare for their kids, moms can work and earn an income to feed themselves and their children. Through our programs, mothers also receive training on proper nutrition for themselves and their children. Malnourished mothers tend to raise malnourished children, and studies have shown that a mother’s nutrition during pregnancy can also affect a child for a lifetime.
It would be easy to say we are going to simply continue our work. But the truth is that we are looking to do more. Child abandonment is a complex issue, and we are looking to break it down at its roots.
We invite you to join us! Check out our website so that you too can #JoinTheReSolution!