More Than a Surgery

A shy 7-year-old with a deformity from birth receives urgent medical treatment, education, and loving support from the NPH Honduras family.
February 27, 2020 - Honduras

Rosalia enjoys learning to play the guitar at NPH Honduras.

Honduras is a country that suffers high-levels of poverty. According to World Bank, 52.6% of the population lives in poverty and 17.2% in extreme poverty. Furthermore, according to a study by the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH), in 2017 approximately 1.5 million (18% of the population) had no access to health services and nine out of 10 people had no form of health insurance.

Rosalia, just 7 years old, was part of that population.

Rosalia is from a village called Florida de Opatoro located southeast of La Paz, in the western part of Honduras close to the border with El Salvador. She went to live with her grandmother when she was very young after her parents divorced. With shining eyes, she remembers how her grandma used to wake up early in the morning before going to work at the coffee plantations to make breakfast for the family.

“Rosalia was born with a deformity called equine varus, leaving her unable to flex her ankle. Unfortunately, her foot is permanently bent inward, which means in order to walk she must use the dorsal lateral part of her foot [the outer foot],’’ says therapist Nienke Boersema, a volunteer from the Netherlands.

This condition does not allow pain to be felt in the affected foot due to the decay that takes place. Rosalia stayed at home by herself most of the time while her grandmother worked. As a dutiful child, she went about her chores and did housework, living in rustic conditions with a dirt floor. Eventually, the decay in her foot developed into an ulcer.

"The nearest health clinic was quite far from her home and her grandmother did not have the economic resources to take her to the city and pay for the necessary treatment, which was longer term. They looked into getting Rosalia emergency surgery at two public hospitals in Tegucigalpa, but they were denied because the ulcer needed daily treatment over a three-month period before surgery could be performed on the ulcer," adds Nienke.

Luckily, NPH Honduras saw the pain that young Rosalia was suffering and stepped in to help.

Rancho Santa Fe got to see that great big smile for the first time in April 2019. She immediately started treatment for the ulcer in the internal clinic at NPH Honduras, finishing in June 2019. We then began using white plaster and a glass form to shape the foot. This was not enough to correct the deformity, so in August she had surgery through One World Surgery to strip the tendons that were counterbalanced and finally put them in a neutral position. The cost of a process like this is around $2,000 [USD], which Rosalia's family was not able to afford," adds Dr. Merlin Antúnez, who also grew up at NPH Honduras.

"It's been five months since Rosalia had surgery, and she has recovered very well. She is currently wearing a boot and continues with therapy, which will enable her to walk independently. That’s the main objective," says Nienke.

Rosalia had never attended school before she arrived at NPH Honduras. She has received more than a life-changing surgery. Her caregiver, Dilcia, says Rosalia was shy and quiet at the beginning, but now she is more involved in her casita, Hijas de María, where she participates in all of the activities. She is currently taking guitar lessons and spends her free time painting.

“I like singing as well. Red and blue are my favorite colors. I like being here with my best friends, and my favorite person is Nienke. Everyone takes care of me in the home,” says Rosalia.

There is no doubt Rosalia is only just beginning a new journey. Good health enables populations to build futures with greater possibilities. NPH definitely plays a part, especially when supporting people who face great challenges, working together to achieve great impact.

Children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.

Interested in supporting children like Rosalia with a small gesture that can have an outsized impact? Visit your local NPH office to see how you can help.

Keyla Suazo   
Communications Officer, NPH Honduras

You may be only one person in the world, but you may be all the world to one child.
—Fr. William Wasson




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