Annual Report 2017 – Rallying Around Carlitos

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Rallying Around Carlitos
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PCI helps address malnutrition among Guatemalan families

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When staff from PCI first met Carlitos, he was severely malnourished and visibly wasting away. His family, like many others in Guatemala’s Western Highlands, was living in extreme poverty.
Several years of severe drought had resulted in low harvests, and sometimes no harvest at all. Additionally, steady work was hard to find, especially for agricultural day laborers. Under these circumstances, Carlitos’s parents, Diego and Angelina, were forced to make unthinkable sacrifices.
“Sometimes we only eat once a day, and sometimes we don’t eat at all so our children can,” Angelina said.
Carlitos’s family enrolled in ACCION, an emergency food security program run by PCI with support from USAID. In Spanish, ACCION stands for “access to training, food and interventions aimed at better nutrition.”
The project reduces short-term hunger and malnutrition among vulnerable families in Western Guatemala by enabling them to purchase nutritious food at local stores using food vouchers. ACCION also provides training on hygiene, health and nutrition practices. These activities include helping malnourished children like Carlitos access therapeutic food and rehabilitation.
Upon his arrival to the National Hospital in Huehuetenango, Carlitos weighed just over 12 pounds. Nearly three years old, he was half the size he should be based on World Health Organization standards.
While in the hospital, the community rallied to support Carlitos. A central focus of ACCION is mobilizing neighbors to promote and protect each other’s well-being and health. Every local participant in the program made contributions toward building a new house for Carlitos, his parents and two siblings. After a two-month stint at the hospital, neighbors and community leaders welcomed Carlitos home and saw for themselves the miraculous change that had taken place.
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Now, a health nurse conducts monthly home visits with Carlitos’s family, counseling his parents on safe food preparation, home hygiene, handwashing and other health and nutrition practices. They are also given vouchers from PCI to buy nutritional foods and hygiene items that continue to help them get through difficult times. These purchases made at nearby shops and markets help strengthen the local economy.
As of April 2017, Carlitos weighed nearly 22 pounds and is maintaining a normal nutritional status. His father, Diego, also found steady work to provide for the family and help ensure his children grow up healthy.
“If you weren’t here, my son might not have made it,” Angelina said. “Thank you for helping.”
NOTABLE NUMBERS
Carlitos is one of 16,618 children in Guatemala whom PCI served in 2017 through ACCION and the generous support of the American people. This investment strengthens families to care for their own children, building a stronger Guatemala and a safer global community for us all.
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