Eight-year-old Junior Alexander Hernandez periodically visited the lunch program at the Verbo Local Church Initiative in the Nicaraguan community of Nueva Vida. ORPHANetwork‘s Local Church Initiative (LCI) program empowers the local church to reach its community for Christ through holistic tools (food, nutrition, health, hygiene, and spiritual tools). Due to his family’s lack of resources, most outsiders would imagine a child like Junior would have been first in line for a hot and nourishing Stop Hunger Now meal each day. But more often than not, the child simply wasn’t hungry and he lacked the energy needed to make the relatively short walk to the church.
About eight months ago, Junior came to the LCI on a day when the children’s health was being assessed at the Nueva Vida Medical Clinic. The clinic monitors the health of almost 1,200 beneficiaries across seven LCIs in the refugee community. Dr. Faniska, the clinic doctor, identified Junior as underweight and anemic. He was lacking color in his face and he shared that he often had little to no appetite. She also found that Junior’s digestive organs were infested with parasites.
From that point on, Dr. Faniska met with Junior and his mother on a monthly basis to monitor his weight and administer vitamins and deworming pills. She counseled the two about the importance of attending the lunch program at the Verbo LCI each day and about eating nutrient and vitamin rich food at home.
Today, Junior’s weight is back to normal. His anemia is resolved and his skin has regained its color. His body is free of parasites and he has his appetite back. His mother has observed these transformational changes in her son and remains committed to taking him to the LCI daily.