In March 2016, World of Children Founders Harry and Kay Leibowitz and World of Children supporters are visiting three World of Children Honorees to observe their work first-hand and see how your donations have made a difference in the lives of children. World of Children Celebrity Ambassador Stephanie March joined them for the first two legs of their journey.
Third Stop – Colombia, to learn more about Catalina Escobar’s work empowering teenage mothers and providing medical care for their children
Yesterday’s blog shared the need for programs that focus on providing medical care for teenage mothers and their children and vocational and empowerment training for the young mothers. Today we’re sharing the story of one special mother and child who recently received support from World of Children Honoree Catalina Escobar and her Juanfe Foundation.
Isaac is a very sweet child who was born in a small municipality a half an hour outside the city of Cartagena, Colombia. Isaac suffers from obstructive hydrocephalus (1) and spastic quadriplegia (2). At a very young age, he began to suffer from gastrointestinal issues that affected his ability to eat and digest food. His young mother, Maria, didn’t know how to provide the special care Isaac needed and his condition began to get worse and worse. He lost weight and became severely malnourished.
Fortunately, Maria heard about Juanfe Foundation and traveled with her son to Cartagena to seek the organization’s help. Isaac was immediately admitted into Juanfe’s “Crib Sponsoring Program” and since then, his life has changed completely.
With sponsorship from Juanfe, Isaac was able to travel to Bogota to receive the best medical care available at Fundacion Santa Fe, one of the city’s best hospitals. Over the course of three weeks, Isaac underwent several surgeries to address his gastrointestinal issues. With follow up care, he began to regain weight. He received appropriate surgical care for his hydrocephalus and doctors inserted a Hakim valve designed to prevent the fluid buildup from recurring.
Beyond providing immediate medical care to address Isaac’s urgent needs, Juanfe Foundation has committed to helping Maria care for Isaac. The organization helped their family find a place to live in Cartagena, so that she and Isaac can be close to medical care when he needs it. The organization has also committed to helping Maria get on her feet by subsidizing other household expenses for an entire year.
Isaac will continue to visit Juanfe Foundation for frequent medical follow ups. Juanfe will provide this follow up care for a minimum of five years, as they do for all children they’ve supported through their Crib Sponsoring Program.
Beyond the medical and financial support Isaac’s family has received from Juanfe, they have found something just as valuable – they’ve gone from a single small family facing the world alone to a part of a large, caring community – the Juanfe Family. Like family, Juanfe will be there for Maria and Isaac, to ensure that they never have to face anything alone again.
Check back tomorrow for updates from the trip!
(1) Obstructive hydrocephalus occurs when the normal flow of this cerebrospinal fluid, which delivers nutrients to the brain and cushions it from injury, is blocked. This causes abnormal amounts of the fluid to build up in the skull and put pressure on the brain. For an infant, this can have devastating effects on physical and cognitive development.
(2) Spastic quadriplegia is a severe form of cerebral palsy that affects the entire body. It includes muscle stiffness of all four limbs and is often caused by extensive brain damage or congenital malformations in the brain. In addition to its physical effects, spastic quadriplegia can also impair a child’s cognitive abilities.