In 2012, a young girl, Juanita, enrolled at our school El Porvenir. She was quite introvert, always wearing her hat and jumper, constantly shutting herself away; consequently she was often absent from the classroom. The NGO Niños de Guatemala, looking towards the integral development of our pupils, organized a medical day in October of that year where foreign doctors carried out medical examinations on all of the school community, where they detected a cardiac deficiency in Juanita, which led them to refer her to a specialist.
With the support of our Educational Operations Manager, we managed to get in touch with a specialist who worked with UNICAR (La Unidad de Cirurgia Cardiovascular de Guatemala) where he was working with ultrasounds. He found that Juanita had an orifice in her heart that needed operating on urgently in order to save her life.
At first, her parents refused any form of medical treatment because they were afraid and they wanted to leave her health in the hands of God. We had to really work with them to improve their understanding of Juanita’s condition, so that she could continue with her treatment.
We were lucky to have so much help and support from a range of professionals, and access to UNICAR’s facilities, along with the unconditional support from Niños de Guatemala. After seven months Juanita was able to go in for open-heart surgery, coming out with super results. It was recommended that she rest at home for about three months, but for Juanita, her biggest concern was the fact that she was not attending school! She was afraid that her teacher and friends would forget her and that she would not pass the first grade.
In order to support her, an adapted curriculum was offered to her, corresponding with her school work, so that Juanita could learn to read and write. Work was sent to her house and her family helped her to continue learning from home, each Friday afternoon her teacher would visit her to evaluate her progress and reinforce her learning so that she could pass the year. After a while, Juanita was able to return to school but she was a new child! She no longer constantly shuts herself away; she is energetic and has abandoned her habitual hat and jumper. Today she runs happily through the school and she has a new opportunity: a better life.
This is just one example where we can see people of all ethnicities, credentials and social positions uniting together to achieve great things. Thank you to all those involved in Juanita’s story – you have made a real difference.
Blanca Aracely Nájera Rodríguez
Centro Educativo El Porvenir