Before I get too sentimental, I have some updates on a few of the children who have been featured on this blog.
Let's start with Fatima Mendez, whose mother had died from a kidney illness that she inherited. Here she is in May 2009.
On the way to her house, we bumped into her and her younger sister, Arlen. They both seemed to be doing well. Fatima said she has not had any kidney issues recently and remains in school and in the Fabretto program. Her father was out of town at work, but her family's home just outside of Cusmapa seems to have come a long way since I was last there.
I also went down to Angel 1 to catch up with the Fatima pictured below, who had been severely malnourished.
Unfortunately she had wandered off, though my old partner in crime Bayardo and I did have a nice chat with her mother about the importance of education. Fatima's health has improved, but she has not been going to class. She is now fifteen and, according to her mother, entitled to her own life decisions. We hope she returns to school. Her family is pictured below in front of their house, which Canterbury should remember.
On that same trip to the communities, Bayardo and I made it to Carrizo to check on Martin, who was among the first children I worked with. You may remember the tumor in his spine that was essentially strangling and paralyzing him, and his courageous recovery that led him to walk again, thanks in large part to his dedicated parents. Sadly, he was also out of the house. In fact, he was out working with his dad, a good sign considering all he has overcome.
Martin returning home from the hospital in 2009
Luckily, I was able to call Martin, and he was happy to come up to Cusmapa the next morning before I headed out. Martin, now 15, has shown what determination and a supportive family can accomplish. He just graduated from primary school and is starting high school (through Fabretto's SAT rural education program) this year. He is a committed student, is active, and provided a nice example for Fatima's family. While Martin cannot do heavy work in the fields, he helps his father and family as best he can. Many people were excited to tell me how much he had grown.
We are pictured below in Cusmapa with his father, who also made trek up the mountain for the visit.
Walking Dec 2009
Walking Dec 2013
And, of course, there is Gabriel. For those unfamiliar, Gabriel was severely malnourished from a very early age, basically clinging to life. His mother is mentally handicapped and a family in Cusmapa, Tona and Santos, adopted both him and his mother. They have both been staying at the home ever since. When I left, Gabriel was around five and doing much better than when I met him, but malnutrition had taken its toll on his cognitive development, and he still was not talking.
Gabriel in 2010
While Gabriel's development is still delayed, he has made a great deal of progress. He is talking... actually, he is constantly talking. He has some go-to phrases, but it's marked improvement. He runs errands for the family. In fact, if his family takes their eyes off him for a second, he tends to go on an excursion. Luckily he finds his way home, though it does make Tona uneasy. They still find him entertaining and loveable, if a bit mischievous. Tona mentioned that he is passing his classes, not so much due to his mastering of the material as his enthusiasm. At around 8 years old, he has come a long way, and it is amazing to see how Tona and her family have taken him and his mother in. He is truly another success story.
Gabriel and his adoptive sister Yadira
Gabriel and Tona