Like so many of you, this holiday season we are grateful for the many blessings we have received, and we look forward to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021.
For many in rural Guatemala, however, this year has been even more devastating than the impacts caused by the coronavirus alone. This year’s challenges have been compounded by the catastrophic rains, floods and landslides from Hurricanes Eta and Iota, resulting in lost crops and lives, as well as 391,850 damaged homes. More than 300,000 people are currently living in temporary shelters. Starvation has become a reality for many in the rural communities we serve. 40% of the 218 families with children in our Cleft Infant Nutrition Program are now in dire need of food. Therefore, in addition to providing life-saving baby formula and health monitoring, we have stepped in to provide 100 families with basic food for survival.
Each impacted family has a captivating story, but one of our infant nutrition families living outside the flooded village of Campur, Alta Verapaz, provides a compelling example of what hundreds more have experienced. Yesica Choc was born with a major cleft lip and palate, was underweight, and could not nurse when Zoila, a Partner for Surgery health promoter arrived. Zoila explained how to care for a newborn with a cleft palate and provided the infant formula to the mother.
Then — without warning — the massive amount of rain from the Category 4 Hurricane Eta arrived in early November and changed everything in many rural areas in Guatemala. Adding to the epic destruction, Category 5 Hurricane Iota struck two weeks later. Three-month old Yesica Choc’s family home was flooded, their harvest washed away, and local roads destroyed. As Yesica’s father, Eliseo, told Zoila, “Our lives changed in just a few hours. Our coffee, cardamom, corn and beans are gone. We lost it all. We didn’t get a chance to save.” Recognizing their desperate situation, Zoila returned with two months of formula and basic food for the family – 50 pounds in all. With these essentials, Eliseo walked the 4 hours back to his family. Over the next three months, baby Yesica’s family and 100 others from our Cleft and Infant Nutrition Program will receive similar assistance from Partner for Surgery Health Promoters. ❖
Image #1: Health Promoter Zoila assists baby Yesica Choc
Image #2: Zoila gives supplies to Eliseo Choc