When a father sees his son suffer, he is moved to action. Poverty doesn’t change that. So when Dennis Obregón watched his little boy shaking from seizures, when he heard him cry from the constant pain in his legs and hips, he acted. He took time away from his job selling lemonade in the town square, and he carried his son, Jeremías, to the doctor.
But in the small town of Buenaventura, Colombia, the medical options were limited. Over and overDennis was told, “We can’t help your son.” Even after pleading with doctors, he was sent home with no answers.
The reality for a father like Dennis is that without resources, doctors refuse to waste their time on so-called “lost causes.” The tests and long-term treatments Jeremías would require could never be covered by a father who sold lemonade for pennies. So while his son suffered, Dennis was out of answers.
When Jeremías was 6, his family learned about the El Acra Child Development Center that had opened in their community. As soon as Jeremías was registered, he had a medical exam, and Dennis was able to share with the program staff his son’s health issues. And for the first time, he heard the words “We can help your son.”
Through Compassion’s Medical Fund, Jeremías and Dennis were able to travel to Cali, a nearby city that had medical specialists. Each visit took an entire day, leaving Dennis’ wife, Yolanda, home alone to take care of their three other children, and requiring Dennis to miss days from work. But the sacrifices were worth it when a neurologist was finally able to treat Jeremías’ seizures. Then an orthopedic doctor discovered that Jeremías had rickets. His calcium and phosphorus levels were dangerously low, and the boy had to be hospitalized.
Throughout this trying time for Jeremías and his family, Compassion forged a partnership with Dennis and Yolanda. Because Dennis could not work, Compassion staff brought groceries to their home. Dennis’ home had no telephone, so staff helped set up Jeremías’ medical appointments. And Compassion covered the costs of the specialists, hospital visits and therapy that Jeremías required.
“It was news that marked the history of my life,” says Yolanda. “I was very happy, because we did not have the economic resources. Realizing that the child development center would cover the expenses for Jeremías’ treatment, we got very happy. I sensed that it was a support from God, a blessing. Since then I have been able to smile more constantly, because I know that the boy is being supported by this [program].”
When Jeremías first began coming to the student center, he had an infectious smile — but it was often tainted by pain and workers often found the boy in tears. Today that smile stands alone as he plays with his friends, paints pictures and learns Bible stories. His favorite book of the Bible is Jeremiah (“It has my name!” he exclaims.) And his favorite verse is Jeremiah 33:3:
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
í doesn’t fully understand those words now — but Dennis and Yolanda have heard God’s clear answer for their family. For years they had searched for an answer that God finally provided.
“It is a blessing from God,” says Yolanda. “[The church] has been an unconditional support for my home and for Jeremías, because they have been there, concerned. God has put them as a pillar in our home; they look after our boy.”