Catching Up: Mateo's Story

Catching Up: Mateo's Story

Every child deserves an opportunity

By: Cherie Rayburn, contributing writer   |   Posted: May 28, 2004

Ver󮩣a Chᶥz holds her two-year-old son, Mateo, who was developmentally behind when he entered the Mi Casita Child Survival Program in Ecuador. Now Mateo is on his way to improved health.

Even prior to birth, thousands of children in the developing world must fight for their lives. Malnutrition and disease become their enemies before they leave their mothers' wombs. And those who do survive are too often doomed to a life that is only a shadow of what it could be.

Making a difference

Early childhood intervention programs sponsored by Compassion are making a significant difference around the world - one mother and child at a time. Consider, for example, Verónica Chávez and her two-year-old son, Mateo, who are enrolled in the Mi Casita Child Survival Program (EC-CS2) in Santa Rita, Ecuador. The program serves little ones through age six and their caregivers, as well as expectant mothers.

At the time she learned she was pregnant, Verónica and her husband were separated. With nowhere else to go, she moved in with her in-laws. Although her husband contributes some food and other basic provisions each month, he lives with another woman and is pursuing a divorce.

Verónica doesn't work and depends completely on her in-laws to provide for her and Mateo. The family rarely has milk and eats primarily rice, beans, bananas and tuna. Verónica constantly suffers from gastritis and recurring bouts of rheumatic fever.

At Mi Casita, both mother and son are receiving the nutrition and medical attention they so desperately need. Verónica is also learning how to provide physical stimulation and learning opportunities for Mateo.

Marked improvement

When they started the program, Mateo was developmentally delayed, unable even to stand on his own. Now he is walking, thanks to the exercises his mother has learned to strengthen his legs. Although he is still a little underweight, Mateo, a happy, playful child, has made remarkable progress and is well on his way to improved health and normal development.

Most important, Verónica and Mateo are shown unconditional love, care and support by project workers, who demonstrate that all children - including little Mateo - are precious to God and deserve the opportunity to become all they can be in Him.

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