In countries all over the world, children are abandoned by poor families who cannot afford the medical care they need. Families who decide not to give up their children often find little support to pay for medical expenses. As a result, these families sink further into poverty or children do not receive adequate care. Every day, this impossible situation puts children at risk for negative outcomes, from ending up in orphanages or on the streets to permanent disability or even death. Organizations that provide free or low-cost medical care to these families are not only saving children’s lives – they’re protecting children from becoming abandoned, neglected, or abused because of their medical conditions.
Emmanuel was born in the state of Guerrero in Mexico. His parents, Lucio and Antonia, worked the land for a living. They applied for and received a bank loan to rent a fruit orchard. By cultivating mangoes, oranges, and bananas in the orchard, they managed to earn enough income to support their family.
One day when he was just a toddler, Emmanuel began having headaches and soon afterwards stopped walking and talking. His parents had no idea what was happening to their son and began to search for answers.
They decided to travel to Mexico City in the hope that the more knowledgeable doctors there could tell them what was wrong and help to cure their son. With hardly any money at all, they set off on their journey.
Lucio and Antonia spent two months in the city visiting doctors and trying to get a diagnosis. Finally, they received an answer – Emmanuel was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a cancerous tumor in his brain. The tumor had caused his headaches and loss of mobility and needed to be treated as soon as possible.
Out of money and with no place to sleep or eat, Emmanuel’s parents had to decide whether they would stay in the city to seek treatment for his cancer. They decided to risk everything for their son. In order for the family to stay together and support one another through the grueling weeks ahead, they gave up their orchard back home.
Lucio and Antonia spent some nights on the floor of the hospital corridors and some nights on the street. They ate just one meal a day and had to use public restrooms whenever they could. They found out that Emmanuel’s treatment would require an operation and subsequent hospitalization, which they could not afford. They were running out of money and options.
One day, a doctor told Emmanuel’s parents about Casa de la Amistad, a care home for children battling cancer and their parents, run by World of Children Honoree Amalia Garcia Moreno. Not believing something so good could be true, Lucio and Antonia visited without much hope of finding help.
What they found was an answer to their prayers. Lucio recalls their introduction to Casa de la Amistad saying, “They welcomed us as if it was really our home. They are a blessing in our lives.”
For the first time since their arrival in Mexico City, Emmanuel and his parents were able to sleep in a clean room and eat three meals a day. Best of all, they learned that Casa de la Amistad would provide all of Emmanuel’s cancer treatment for free.
Emmanuel, now four years old, is 100% covered as he and his parents fight for his life. Casa de la Amistad takes care of everything so all the family has to focus on is helping Emmanuel get better.
This story was originally posted as part of our January 2016 Child Protection Blog Carnival. Read more posts from the Blog Carnival here >>