I feel so blessed to be a part of the ASELSI Milk Program.
If I didn’t actually see first hand the lives of the mothers and babies here, I don’t think I’d believe it. While we’re only a three hour’s flight away from the United States, this is truly a different world.
The Mayans we serve among rarely drink clean water. They have to boil or filter the polluted water they have. Even their tap water has bacteria in it. Many of them don’t boil the water long enough or even at all. Sick babies with diarrhea are common place. Many times, the money to buy a filter that would cost less than US$200 just isn’t available for these families who usually make about $7 a day.
At the Milk Program, where we supply families with milk,formula, vitamins and cereal to help keep their undernourished children healthy, we are only able to supply about 1/3 of the formula that the children actually need for a month. The rest of the month’s supply of food is the responsibility of the families. This means that in most cases the children never get the amount of food they really need.
Currently there are 135 children in the milk program where I help by evaluating babies, helping keep track of kids that continue to fail to thrive, and by teaching hygiene techniques to the mothers. I also evaluate babies who are severely malnourished and I send them to the hospital with ASELSI covering all costs of transportation and the consultation. Sadly, however, sometimes the moms never show up to bring their babies to the hospital.
One mother who recently didn’t show up to go to the hospital with her severely malnourished and dying baby said her husband told her that she couldn’t go. She regularly came each month for her free milk, but her baby was not showing any improvements. She then told the nurses that she just simply didn’t have the time to take care of him because this was her eleventh baby. Many times these babies die because the parents don’t have the money to feed them formula and when the family sees them not thriving they become seen as a “burden.”
Sometimes mothers who already have many hungry children give their babies away to a family who is able to better provide for them. We know that there is a definite physical need to be met here in Guatemala, but more than this we see such a spiritual need for Christ as well. We give the mothers and children Bible lessons, lessons on hygiene and etc. while they are waiting for their milk and we pray with and over the families. It is such a joy to see these women come to their Heavenly Father in prayer and hope that he brings no matter their current situations!
Matthew 10:42 (NIV)
“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”