Agriculture Educational Center
When the village leader in the remote region of the Zona Reyna asked UbF founder Deborah Simon to check on a sick child she grabbed her medical pack and followed him to a tiny home. Despite her years of being a nurse, she was unprepared for what she found. Hector, an eleven year old boy with Down’s Syndrome lay with glazed eyes, a high fever, a distended abdomen, heart rate of 130 and a rash covering his body. Deborah immediately called an ambulance, which took Hector to the nearest hospital 5 ½ hours away, fording rivers on the treacherous road.
The next day Deborah and the team of volunteers visited him at the hospital where they learned he had nearly died the prior night of congestive heart and liver failure from complications of pellagra, which is caused by malnutrition.
A recent article in the Washington Post cites “Hunger, food insecurity, limited work opportunities and abandonment by the state are unfortunately the status quo in much of rural Guatemala, which has the highest rate of chronic malnutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean. This scale of food insecurity is certainly abhorrent, but we can’t really call it a sudden crisis if it’s already an entrenched condition.”
The people of the Zona Reyna are no longer waiting for government help to remedy the situation. They have donated land on which to build an agriculture education center where farmers will be introduced to a variety of crops, such as green leafy vegetable and an improved variety of corn that will improve their nutrition. The center will be constructed through a partnership of UbF, the Peace Corps, some Corpus Christi Rotary clubs and their own population. UbF’s commitment to the project is $15,000.
And Hector? Thanks to intensive intervention by the hospital staff, Hector is now doing well and is back at his school. Let’s work together to help the families of the Zona Reyna conquer malnutrition.