Child Protection

Poverty and Child Malnutrition in Colombia

Children in Cartagena

Poverty and Risk of Infant Mortality

Globally, poverty is one of the most important indicators of negative outcomes for children – and one of the most difficult to protect them from. In the worst cases, poverty prevents families from accessing basic medical care and adequate nutrition and young children die from completely preventable conditions. One of the biggest threats to child welfare in Cartagena, especially among children born to poor teenaged mothers, is infant mortality due to malnutrition or inaccessible medical care.

Juanfe Foundation, founded by 2015 World of Children Humanitarian Honoree Catalina Escobar, seeks to protect children from this worst possible outcome and protect their families, especially teenaged mothers, from the pain of not being able to provide for their children. Their Crib Sponsorship Program and Medical Center Juan Felipe IPS address malnutrition and follow up care and intervention to give children born into poverty the best possible start in life.

Juanfe Adrian


When Adrián was two months old, he was diagnosed with severe malnutrition. His mother did not have the money to pay for his treatment. A neighbor told her about Juanfe Foundation and she sought help from their Crib Sponsorship Program. From the day he entered the program, his mother noticed changes in her son. Each month, he steadily increased his weight and his health improved. Two and a half years later, he has gained more than seventeen pounds and no longer suffers from malnutrition. He is a happy and healthy child. He and his mother continue to have access to the Juan Felipe Medical Center for check-ups and nutrition information and support.

Juanfe Milene


When Milene was two months old, she was diagnosed with bronchiolitis and was severely malnourished. She was a very weak baby and her mother says she “got sick very often.” The doctor recommended expensive food supplements that her teenaged mother couldn’t possibly afford. Worried about her daughter, her mother found Juanfe Foundation and requested help for her daughter’s medical needs. Through the Crib Sponsorship Program, Milene received proper medical treatment and the supplements she needed – for free. Milene is now a healthy four year-old, full of vitality and energy.

About the Two Programs

The Crib Sponsorship Program targets children between 0 and 24 months of age who have high risk of mortality and provides health and nutritional interventions. Through the program, parents also learn how to take care of their children including practicing healthy habits and preventing common illnesses. The Crib Sponsoring Program is managed through the Medical Center; the cases that require special attention are directed to specialized institutions.

The Medical Center Juan Felipe IPS is located in Juanfe’s headquarters and offers medical attention to the teenage mothers and their children. It also performs the follow up sessions for Crib Sponsorship Program patients, who receive ongoing care for 5 years after their time in the Crib Sponsorship program. In addition to the services provided to teenage mothers and their children, the Medical Center provides low-cost care to vulnerable members of the surrounding community.

Learn more about Catalina Escobar and Juanfe Foundation >>

Visit Juanfe Foundation’s Website >>

This story was originally posted as part of our January 2016 Child Protection Blog Carnival. Read more posts from the Blog Carnival here >>

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