The Story of Esperanza
Seeing that the name of our organization is Hands of Esperanza, I found it fitting that the first post should give a little insight as to why we chose this name. In other words, the story of Esperanza. Translated from Spanish to English, esperanza means “hope.” A telling word as it is hope that fuels every individual involved with our organization to put forth the effort to actualize the vision that we have for the people of Guatemala. A vision of more attainable healthcare, resources, and initiatives with longevity for these kind and humble people. But beyond this, Esperanza is a person. Specifically, a little girl. A two year old with a twin brother who had the misfortune of being born into a household of neglect. Her first 14 months of life consisted of living in an environment where she was never changed, never bathed, often covered in wounds and sores, and ultimately became malnourished and critically ill. She was left in the care of siblings, who at the time didn’t know how to care for her, the oldest being 14 years old. Her mother passed away during the delivery of Esperanza and her twin brother, Isaias. As for her father, he was often gone for long periods of time for work; a reality that many households in Guatemala face in order to provide financially for their families. At 14 months, however, she and her brother were received by Jenna Haynes and our partners at Casa Gloria Orphanage. At the time they were unable to sit or crawl, a milestone typically reached at 8-9 months for most children. They were unable to stand, walk, or talk, a milestone typically reached at 12 months. It was obvious to the staff of Casa Gloria the severity of Esperanza’s and Isaias’ condition as they were underdeveloped, under-cared, and malnourished. Esperanza and her brother resided and were under the care of the wonderful staff of Casa Gloria and Mision Vida Nueva for 6 months, where they were in perfect health before being released to live with their birth family. It was barely even 4 months later when Jenna received a mortifying message; “Jenna, Esperanza and Isaias are here in the hospital, and the news is that Esperanza just died.” Esperanza and Isaias, who were once in perfect health, were in the hospital because they were starved and neglected again. Esperanza suffered a heart attack that lasted 12 minutes. She was resuscitated and hand ventilated; a condition that we have since been told carries a 100% mortality rate in this hospital. Jenna was made aware that Esperanza’s only hope, although still slim, was to be placed on a mechanical ventilator. Jenna and her staff got to work immediately upon hearing this to locate one within the borders of the country as there were none available at the hospital she was being treated at in Coban. However, Esperanza passed shortly after these efforts were initiated.
Esperanza was survived by 10 siblings. Isaias, her twin brother, was hospitalized for 5 weeks following Esperanza’s passing. Two days after his release, the courts granted order of protection and custody to Casa Gloria. Since then his other 9 siblings have been granted the opportunity to call Casa Gloria their home, including a young nephew of Esperanza who is now 2 years old. Jenna has since begun construction on a casita (little house) for the siblings and nephew to all live together under one roof. The last time we visited in August 2019, all the siblings were healthy and happy, and quite the unified front of mischief and games. This was our first time meeting the majority of the siblings, but I have a gut feeling that Isaias remembers at least a few of us from trips before.
You may have noticed that I try not to refer to Esperanza in the past tense, and this is intentional. As her story and her spirit lives on within us. We all hope to be a part of a solution that creates more accessible medical resources and helps to provide what the people need. We all recognize and accept the hope that our patients return to us, renewing us as providers and as individuals. Through our organization and future clinic we aim to provide resources for pregnant mothers, screenings for newborns and pediatric patients, and acute care when illnesses inevitably arise. This way we can provide our “Hands of Hope” to afford others the opportunities and medical resources that were sadly not afforded to Esperanza. Her story is the catalyst of hope that drives not only Hands of Esperanza, but also Mision Vida Nueva and AVIS/Living to Serve. Rudy, director of AVIS/Living to Serve, was so ecstatic about our choice in name that he elected to name the clinic we are working diligently to fund and build ‘Manos de Esperanza.’ Translated from Spanish it means, ‘Hands of Hope.’ I feel the saddest part of this story is that Esperanza will never know how impactful her life was to us, and thus to hundreds upon thousands of others. Personally, I do hope that you carry this story with you as you go about your day-to-day lives. Know that through your donations, you are changing lives and helping us save the lives of people like Esperanza. We always say, “Perhaps you need a little Guatemala,” but who knows? Perhaps you need a little hope as well.