On the Shores of Opportunity

According to her mother, Santa, Kimberly spends each day "laughing and learning." She is a friendly little girl with a radiant smile.

By Kim Saam

Kimberly started preschool last year and continues to love her class. Santa is happy that Kimberly got an early start to her education. Santa herself had to drop out of school after 6th grade, as did Kimberly’s father, because it was too expensive.

Kimberly and Santa’s favorite thing to do together is play school. Kimberly is always the teacher, and loves to teach her mother what she learned in school each day. Santa hopes that Kimberly will grow up to be a teacher because she has an obvious talent for it.

Santa suffers from an unknown illness which makes it impossible for her to work outside the home. However, she recently was able to join her community’s weaving cooperative and is now the co-leader! She is thankful to have this opportunity to earn income by weaving bracelets and other jewelry at home, which she later sells through the co-op.

On a typical day, the family eats three meals. Their most common meal is rice, beans, onions, and a local spinach-like green native to the area. They try to eat eggs for breakfast when they can afford them. They also try to purchase potatoes on occasion. They eat fish once per month, more often if there is extra money. Santa told us that if there isn’t enough food, Kimberly eats before her parents, so they can be sure she is getting enough.

Her husband, Jose, is a day laborer who mostly finds agricultural work. The work is not steady; some of the time he is without a job. The farms he works on typically grow either onions or flowers, which are sent to the big city to sell. The three of them live in a one-room home attached to Jose’s parents’ house.

Before starting preschool and getting vitamins, Kimberly was sick much more often. In particular, Santa remembers how Kimberly’s belly was swollen from parasites. These parasites caused her pain and gave her diarrhea. She also used to get fevers much more often.

Now, as part of her preschool program, she receives vitamin A, deworming tablets, and a daily multivitamin. Santa has noticed a marked improvement in Kimberly’s health. Her belly is no longer swollen, and she doesn’t get sick as often. Santa was not able to take prenatals when she was pregnant with Kimberly. The vitamins were too expensive to purchase locally. Cheaper vitamins were available in Panajachel, though the 10-quetzal ($1.30), two-hour round-trip journey was impossible for her to make. Santa feels very strongly that her lack of access to prenatal vitamins caused some of Kimberly’s health issues. If she has another child, she is resolved to make it a priority to get prenatals.

Thankfully, prenatals are now available to her through Vitamin Angels' local partner. Santa and her husband are currently waiting to have more children, because they know they need to be in a more stable financial situation before they can afford another child. Right now, she feels happy that she can dedicate all of her attention and resources to Kimberly. Her dream is that Kimberly grows up healthy, continues her education, and learns English. She wants her daughter to have the best life possible.

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