Against All Odds: A Boy’s Journey to Healing from a Gunshot Wound

Guatemala – It was just a normal day – Marta had sent one of her daughters and her son, Joel, to help her mother and brother set up the food cart that her mother runs in Guatemala City. Marta’s mother is a regular vendor in their neighborhood, setting up at the same intersection every evening.

But that afternoon suddenly turned into Marta’s worst nightmare. A shooting occurred in the neighborhood, leaving 13 innocent people dead – including Marta’s mother and brother. Both of her children also suffered gunshot wounds. Thankfully, her daughter’s injuries were mild, but Joel was rushed by ambulance to the local ER and barely survived.

“They sewed him up and released him, and they gave me a prescription for antibiotics,” Marta said. “But what on earth was I going to do with a prescription?” Already reeling from the shock of losing her mother and brother, Marta despaired over how she was going to find – or even afford – antibiotics for Joel.

“We used that medicine,” Marta said. “He never got infected, and he’s doing fine now.”

Marta and her children live in a community where many people make a living recycling household waste. Their house is built on top of a landfill. Joel’s risk of infection was high enough as it was, but living so close to the landfill, and not having antibiotics – his chances of survival were slim at best.

But Marta did not have to despair for long. She found a medical clinic in their neighborhood that was supplied with medicines from MAP, and the doctor there not only was able to instruct Marta on how to care for Joel’s wounds, but she was also able to fill her prescription for antibiotics. For Joel, it was nothing short of a miracle.

Several months later, Joel is doing well. He pulls up his pant leg to show where he suffered the gunshot wounds. Most of his calf is missing, and the rest of his leg is a mess of scars, but he is alive! “We used that medicine,” Marta said. “He never got infected, and he’s doing fine now.”

Marta had already suffered great loss. Without the antibiotics from MAP, she could have easily lost her son as well. Thankfully, that gunshot wound was not the end of Joel’s story, and Marta is so grateful.

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