Hungry to Healthy and the Heroes Who Help Make it Happen

Sacatepequez, Guatemala

By: Jenna Adams

“He’s made a lot of progress, here’s a picture of him a month earlier when he was brought to us,” Zuella, the nanny for the bunnies group said. She revealed a photo of a baby boy laying on a table. His entire rib cage protruded out of the confines of his body, covered by a thin layer of skin. The image was heartbreaking, but also inspiring. It’s a testament of what is being done at the Malnutrition Center in San Juan, Sacatepequez, Guatemala. The boy in the photograph is Malaquias. He is a happy boy who loves to play with toys, cuddle and look at pictures. To think that just a month earlier he was essentially the shell of the boy he was created to be is mind boggling.

Orphan’s Heart, a state-side ministry partner with the Malnutrition Center, was created to bring care and nutrition to children in Guatemala. According to UNICEF, the malnutrition rate for children under the age of five in Guatemala is 50 percent. That’s the fourth highest in the world (Orphan’s Heart). It takes an awesome amount of courage to leave your child with strangers when you know they will be able to receive better nourishment there than in your care. At the same time, it shows the love and humility the people of Guatemala carry.

At the Malnutrition Center, children are cared for by a hard-working and dedicated staff. Each “development group” has their own nanny who cares after them on a daily basis. A typical day for a nanny at the Malnutrition Center is a busy one. They feed the children bottles and 2-3 large-portioned meals on a daily basis, as well as change all of their diapers and take care of putting them down to sleep. When they aren’t doing any of those tasks, they are right alongside the children playing with them and loving on them. Progress is being made at this center. It can be seen through children, like Malaquias, who come to the center. He came in a life-threatening state of malnutrition and after one month, he was well on his way to being a plump, healthy baby.

To volunteer at this Malnutrition Center for even just a week was a humbling experience. Even driving through the streets of Sacatepequez will show visitors the kind of dedication the locals have. It’s also the joy they carry with them that is evident. To learn more about the Malnutrition Center in San Juan click here.