Belen in Nicaragua is 6 and well on her way to achieving her dream of becoming a doctor!
Not only does her sponsor provide her with the school supplies she needs; sponsorship also helps her eat better, which keeps her healthy, which in turn keeps her in school!
See sponsorship at work in Belen's family…
Six-year-old Belen likes to play with her dolls. Like many young girls in Namotivas, Nicaragua, she models what she sees around the home. She likes to pretend her dolls are sick with a cough and fever, and then help them get healthy again.
“I give them syrup so they can get better,” says Belen, who also has two younger sisters. In this game, her doll’s make-believe sickness is a reflection of her own real-life experience as an underweight, malnourished child.
The effects of malnutrition are often underestimated. Even though many children may eat enough to feel full, the lack of nutrients contributes to weaker immune systems and limits mental and physical development. Undernourished children are more likely to get sick and not perform as well in school.
The World Bank classifies Nicaragua as the second poorest country in the Latin America and Caribbean region, and the World Food Programme estimates that chronic malnutrition affects 22 percent of children under 5.
Belen, a World Vision sponsored child, used to be one of them—but not anymore.
Through sponsorship, Belen is able to get school supplies, new shoes, and a backpack. More importantly, her mother is able to attend World Vision nutrition workshops to improve the family’s eating habits. This in turn reduces illness and trips to see the doctor.
“I could say that before she was having a fever or cold most of the time, but now she has improved a lot,” says Telma, Belen’s grandmother who lives with the family.
In these nutrition workshops, called “Common Pot,” mothers learn to cook with more nutritious—and less expensive—ingredients such as soybeans and fresh vegetables grown in community gardens. And to specifically help Belen’s family, sponsorship funds provided Belen’s family with five hens so they can eat protein-rich eggs every day.
“It [the new cooking techniques] can prevent illness with children. This is important to pass on the trainings to the children,” says Geraldine, a facilitator of one Common Pot group. Her 9-year-old daughter is also sponsored.
Because of what her mother learned in the Common Pot workshops, Belen’s nutrition has improved and she’s well enough to go to school.
“I like to read. And I like to study with my dad,” Belen says. One of her favorite stories is Pinocchio and she loves to hear stories about princesses. Her teacher, Francisco, mentions that Belen likes to learn about math and Spanish literature. He describes her as very disciplined — on time for class, never misses a day, and always has her homework done. She wants to be a doctor when she grows up, so she already has the right study habits.
“As a teacher, we have a big task,” says Francisco of his students. “It’s to prepare them for the future … we are taking care of those dreams we talk about here and how we accompany them through the path to fulfill that dream.”
Sponsorship has also shown Belen and her family a tangible expression of God’s love. Her U.S. sponsor is very active, sending letters, photos, and gifts to Belen. Belen knows her sponsor’s name is Margo and that she has a baby and a cat. This small connection gives Telma hope that Belen can grow up to have a professional job and live in better circumstances.
“It’s very special that these people, who don’t know us personally, really care for us and have this love for us,” Telma says. “I’m really thankful.”
Even though Belen has never met Margo, who sponsored her at a Family Christian store in Texas, her sponsorship has enabled Belen to be healthy and pursue her dreams!
Choose your favorite way to help provide medical care to children around the world and help them have healthier, happier childhoods through the World Vision Gift Catalog!
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