Pablo is a 6 month old child born in Cochabamba to Maria Elena (34) and Felix (28). He has a half brother, Fernando (5).
When Pablo was born, the local doctors knew there was a problem with Pablo's heart. He had difficulty breathing and had shortness of breath.
Maria Elena works as a domestic worker in the city of Cochabamba and had to carry Pablo on her back the entire time she worked to try and transfer her body heat to him because he would be constantly cold with his feet, hands and lips being purple. The family lives in Colcapirhua, a small town about 4 miles from the city of Cochabamba. They live in a rented room in a crumbling house that will be demolished in the near future. Felix paints houses for a living and has to live in Cochabamba during the week to get occasional work. They earn together about $170 a month. Felix only sees his family on the weekends.
Usually, starting at 6 a.m., Maria Elena prepares the food for Fernando who goes to a daycare near where they live. Maria Elena, with Pablo on her back, travels via public bus to Cochabamba where she works until 2 p.m. when she returns home. Sometimes she gets occasional cleaning and clothes washing jobs near her room. She begins cooking at 6 p.m. and puts the children to sleep afterward.
When Pablo was 3 months old, he needed to be hospitalized because of pneumonia. After being released, she had to take him to the hospital every 8 hours over 2 weeks for his treatment. This left Maria Elena without her work, causing their income to drop 40% to $100 a month.
They knew Pablo needed a heart operation, but also knew the impossibility of this happening. In Maria Elena's words "I thought there was no solution to our problem. I did not know what to do and was desperate."
After the operation, Maria Elena looks down at her sleeping son and with a smile, sighing and with deep sense of relief says, "We are so very grateful with our entire being for those who have helped us from so far away."
Pablo was operated on March 19th and Maria Elena said that afterwards she could immediately see the difference in how he breathed and that he no longer felt cold. This surgery was made possible through the financial support of Dharma Trading Co.