“Why?” is not an uncommon question for a 5-year-old to ask. “Why is the sky blue?” “Why is my hair brown?” “Why do I have to go to bed?”
But little Leoneri’s question was harder to answer.
“Why am I so sick?”
It was a question her mother, Yesmerlin, struggled to answer. For Leoneri’s whole life, Yesmerlin had done the best she could for her daughter. When she was 16, pregnant and alone, she enrolled in a Compassion International Child Survival center near her home in the Dominican Republic.
The staff at the center helped Yesmerlin move back in with her family, and they celebrated with her when she gave birth to a healthy, beautiful girl. For the next three years, Yesmerlin learned how to care for her daughter, and when Leoneri was 3 she was enrolled in Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program. At the center she played with her friends, learned her colors and numbers, and drew pictures for her new sponsor.
At age 5, however, Leoneri began exhibiting strange physical symptoms. First she complained of her eyes hurting, and then she developed skin rashes. Soon the once-pleasant little girl began having violent mood swings.
Staff at the center helped Yesmerlin set up a doctor’s appointment for Leoneri. After multiple blood tests, they had an answer.
Leoneri had insulin-dependent diabetes.