A child’s smile is worth fighting for

A child’s smile is worth fighting for A child’s smile is worth fighting for

The Amanecer Infantil Foundation manages, with the support of Fundación MAPFRE, the Centro de Barahona in the Dominican Republic. Every child who passes through the Center brings a unique and complex story, often one of great hardship, in stark contrast to the innocent, often vulnerable, appearance they present upon arrival.

The Center of the Amanacer Infantil Foundation is located in the Barahona province, one of the most depressed areas of the country. It has a high percentage of Haitian immigrants due to its location on the border with Haiti. These factors make the rates of child abandonment, mortality and malnutrition especially high among children.

Malnutrition was the case with a barely one year-old Feber, weighing only 4.5 kilograms when he arrived at the Center. The initial diagnosis was marasmus (severe malnutrition), contact dermatitis, and intestinal parasitism, coupled with a grim family background. However, Feber’s strength made it possible for him to surmount not only these initial problems but also a serious disease which unexpectedly appeared not long afterwards. 

When the antibiotics failed to bring down his high fever, he was taken to the regional emergency hospital where, following various tests, he was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, a hereditary blood disease. Following an emergency blood transfusion of type B blood, which was extremely difficult to obtain, Feber managed to survive in extreme circumstances.

At the beginning, Feber’s motor skills were underdeveloped and he had to use a walker. But now, at the age of three, he runs through the halls of the Center without any help and full of reasons to laugh, because he is, without a doubt, a born fighter.

Aurora came to the Center at 7 months of age from a family with many problems. Her case quickly became a personal challenge to the professionals attending to her. Although her enormous eyes would fix on the person talking to her, her face would remain expressionless. Aurora was diagnosed with an early onset of slight retardation and has spent many hours in the early childhood education classroom. Now at two years old, she is beginning to show the first signs of being able to communicate. Aurora’s first smiles have been the greatest rewards for the hard work of the psychologists at the Center. 

Orquídea is two years older than her sister Aurora. She came to the Center with symptoms of moderate undernourishment and a lack of vision in one eye. She also presented symptoms of acute psychological trauma caused by problems in the family which affected both sisters.  All this made her learning a slow process. These are consequences which, nevertheless, the Amanecer Infantil Foundation continues to fight to overcome every day.