Coming Alive

“Guess what?” Selvin ran to his mother to give her a hug when she picked him up. “Today we ate spaghetti!” The next day, the same excited cry. “Guess what? Today we ate chicken!”

One of my favorite things about Casita Copan is watching our kids transform right before our eyes. It’s happening again now that we just accepted our newest family, Selvin, Alan, and baby Deylin. The story is one we’ve heard before. Their mother, Suyapa supports her four children and her sick mother by working in the kitchen of a restaurant six days a week. Her oldest son is in school so when he’s not there to take care of the kids, she just locks the door and 6-year-old Selvin watches 3-year-old Alan and 1-year-old Deylin.

At first, our new kids were shy. They stayed together, the boys doting on their little sister like they’re obviously used to doing. Even though Selvin is 6, his mother hasn’t enrolled him in school yet so when we offered to give him “homework” to do in a notebook, he nearly exploded with excitement. Alan’s verbal skills are very underdeveloped, most likely due to a lack of stimulation and conversation. He is clearly the middle child and doesn’t even cry when someone takes a toy from him or tries to bully him. But we’ve already seen him start to come out of his shell and start talking more. In just a few days, his speech has started to improve. And precious little Deylin started off very lethargic and non-verbal and now she is running around, full of energy, smiling and making noises, obviously trying to say something (although it’s still not clear what!).

So what’s the biggest reason for the sudden change? Nutritious food and clean water. The first thing we do for our Casita Copan kids is give them an anti-parasite treatment and start them on a daily vitamin regimen. The next thing we do is feed them! The majority of the kids at Casita Copan come to us severely undernourished, which affects both their physical appearance and their behavior. Two well-balanced meals a day with snacks in between and clean water whenever they want it truly works wonders.

The changes are visible. When an undernourished child starts to get healthy again, you can see the quality of his skin change. His hair thickens and darkens. He has more energy and sleeps less throughout the day. His immune system strengthens and he’s less likely to catch a cold, lice, or another infection. This says nothing of the changes that aren’t physical but equally important. When kids get healthy, they feel better and transform into energetic, happy, playful kids who are ready to learn.

The reality for kids like Selvin, Alan, and Deylin is a reality of one meal a day – if they’re lucky. This meal is not balanced and usually consists of only beans and tortillas. Selvin admitted to me that they still don’t eat dinner at their home. Often their mother’s salary just doesn’t cut it and so if there is dinner at all, it’s a tortilla sprinkled with salt. But now with the support of Casita Copán, Suyapa can make her salary stretch further and start providing a consistent dinner for her kids. And we can be sure that at least they are going home with bellies full.

We provide much more than food to our kids at Casita Copán, but sometimes it’s nice just to reflect back on how meaningful food really is. What a difference it can make not just in physical health but in a child’s ability to concentrate and excel in school.

You can help keep Selvin, Alan, and Deylin full and healthy by choosing to be a sponsor or co-sponsor. Sponsorship provides direct services to a special child – food, clean water, medical care, school supplies, educational support, loving care, and so much more. Our sponsors guarantee that Casita Copán kids always have enough food to eat. Of course all regular donations are wonderful too and go towards the same goals of keeping our kids healthy and happy! Find out more by clicking here and be a part of the change.