Workers at the Dulce Refugio Child Development Center help Josué £ope with his life-threatening health issues.
Josué ‡omez looks like a healthy 12-year-old until you look closely. Under a mop of black hair, his face is pale. An ugly bruise extends below the hem of his ragged shorts. During recess, Josué ¯ften sits on the sidelines, wistfully watching his friends play a rowdy game of soccer.
Josué ©s a hemophiliac. He has a genetic bleeding disorder that prevents his blood from clotting normally. For Josué¬ a small scrape can be deadly. If he is hit with a ball on the playground, deep bruises or even internal bleeding may result. But thanks to the knowledge and support he receives through the Dulce Refugio Child Development Center in Quito, Ecuador, Josué ©s learning how to control the disorder that has, for years, controlled him.
A Dreadful Diagnosis
When Josué ·as only a few months old, his parents realized something was dreadfully wrong. Bruises frequently covered his small body. If he scraped his knees crawling on the dirt floor, he would bleed for hours before his mother could stop the flow. When Josué ¦inally was diagnosed with hemophilia, his parents were devastated.
Josué ·as among the 70 percent of hemophiliacs around the world who cannot afford the expensive medicines and transfusions that the disease demands. His parents tried to shield Josué ¦rom harm throughout his childhood because they knew even a minor injury could lead to uncontrollable bleeding. Many days Josué ³at in the shade of his family's one-room house and watched the neighborhood children playing, wishing he could join them.
When Josué ·as 8 years old, his parents learned about the Compassion-assisted Dulce Refugio Child Development Center. At first, they were concerned that project workers wouldn't watch out for their son's unusual needs. But Josué ³o desperately wanted to be around other children that they finally agreed to let him attend. Through the support of his sponsor, Compassion was able to help Josué§³ parents with his medical treatments, and his health slowly began to improve.
In addition to benefiting from the financial support his sponsor sent each month, Josué ¡lso learned more about how to keep his body strong while attending the center's health classes. Each week, he sat in a crowded classroom with signs, posters and drawings about nutrition and physical care covering the walls. The health tutor quizzed students about hygiene and nutrition, and Josué ¥agerly absorbed the knowledge.
"Josué ³hows much interest in the nutrition lessons," says Aura Ramí²¥z, the center's health tutor. "He is always asking what are the best options to nurture himself to help his muscles, bones and blood be in good condition."
Josué ¦inally feels he has some control over his body. The medicine and treatments help strengthen him, and he feels empowered with the knowledge that the food and vitamins he takes help fight his disorder. Josué ©s no longer defined by hemophilia. Instead, he is defined by his sense of humor, his athletic abilities and his dream of one day being able to race motorcycles.
"I thank God that He put Compassion in my life," says Josué® "They helped my family to pay for my medicines and treatments. I believe one day I will be healed. I won't feel this pain anymore."