Guatemala – Anyone who has ever traveled to Central America, whether for business or for pleasure, knows the rule: don’t drink the tap water. All it takes is one rinse of your toothbrush under the faucet, and you risk at minimum a nasty case of diarrhea – worst case scenario, you could pick up an intestinal parasite. The water simply isn’t safe.
But the water is no different for travelers than it is for the people who live in those countries. Locals have to be mindful of their water sources as well. Bottled water is best, but when that isn’t available, tap water must be boiled or otherwise sterilized before being consumed.
For those living in rural parts of Central America, like Magdalena’s family in Guatemala, clean water is nearly impossible to come by, and bottled water is far too expensive to buy on a regular basis. They make do, of course, boiling their water daily before drinking or cooking with it.
Except one day Magdalena’s mother forgot. It was an innocent mistake. Magdalena was still a baby, and had been nursing exclusively up to this point. When her mother made the transition from breastfeeding to feeding Magdalena formula, she accidentally mixed the formula powder with the local tap water, not even thinking about the potential ramifications.
It didn’t take long for Magdalena’s mother to realize her mistake. Soon, her poor baby was inconsolable, her stomach distended from the intestinal parasites that were now ravaging her little body. She immediately began boiling the water before mixing in the formula, but by then it was too late – nothing could ease the pain that her daughter was experiencing.
As Magdalena’s mother sat trying to think of what to do, a mobile mission brigade happened to come by their village. The mission team took one look at Magdalena and sent the girl and her mother to the mission clinic nearby. There, a pediatrician gave baby Magdalena medicine from MAP to remedy the problem.
The results were nearly immediate. When the mission team visited Magdalena at home to check on her, they found the baby sleeping peacefully – the medicine had worked. What a relief! Magdalena’s mother was so grateful to have her happy baby back again.
Had the medical team not arrived when they did, or if they didn’t have medicines from MAP, Magdalena’s story could easily have ended in tragedy. Intestinal parasites, if left untreated, can lead to malnutrition and other life-threatening infections. Thanks to MAP, Magdalena’s health was quickly restored, and she is growing and developing normally, like all babies deserve to do.