A Gift of Health for a Gifted Student – Dulce Maria’s Dream
By Dale Hanson-Bourke
Dulce Maria is an excellent student. She never misses school, and at just 10 years old, she is mature beyond her years.
That’s why it surprised her teacher when she had a hard time paying attention in class and began to rest her head on her desk. Soon it became apparent that Dulce Maria was very ill.
“I touched her forehead and she was hot to the touch. She said her head and throat hurt,” said her teacher, Edna Galicia. “But despite her illness, she did not want to miss school.”
Dulce Maria lives in a rural area of the Guatemalan municipality of San Cristóbal Acasaguastlán.
During the week, her mother works in a nearby town processing sugar cane, so she lives with her grandmother. But her grandmother has no cell phone and the nearest clinic is a three-hour walk away. Her grandmother watched her growing more and more ill, but there was nothing she could do.
Finally, her teacher alerted Dr. Mayra Franco at the town clinic about Dulce Maria’s condition. Dr. Mayra, as she prefers to be called, spends most mornings in the clinic and then makes “house calls” during the afternoons to the citizens living in outlying rural areas. So Dr. Mayra made the long journey to check on Dulce Maria.
“When I examined her, it was clear she was very, very sick,” says Dr. Mayra. “She had a severe case of strep throat that had gone untreated for quite a while.”
Without treatment, strep can turn into rheumatic fever, causing long-term damage to a child’s heart and lungs. It is the leading cause of heart damage for children in developing countries.
Fortunately, Dr. Mayra had recently received pediatric antibiotics from MAP International, in partnership with Food for the Poor. The antibiotics were exactly what she needed to help treat Dulce Maria’s condition.
“She started to feel better in just a few days,” says her grandmother. “I am so very grateful to God and those who made it possible for Dulce Maria to receive this free medicine,” she says.
“Many of us here are very poor,” she continued. “But we love our children and want the best lives for them. I am so glad that Dulce Marie feels better and can study again. She loves school.”
Recently Mayor Jeaneth Ordonoz visited Dulce Maria’s school. When the children were asked, “Who wants to be mayor one day?” Dulce Maria’s hand shot up and her eyes sparkled.