When Maria gave birth to her son, at the home of her local midwife, one look told her that something wasn’t right.

Her little baby boy had a gap in his face just below his nose – an orofacial cleft commonly known as a cleft lip and palate.

Whether it was because of the shock, fear, or she just didn’t know what to do, Maria left her baby and never came back.

Thankfully, the rest of this little boy’s family didn’t give up on him. His father, Carlos, took the little baby home and two aunts joined in to help save him. They named him Marvin—a name his father says makes him think of greatness, like the sea.

After 11 days of trying to take care of Marvin on their own, a friend saw that Carlos was troubled and asked him what was going on. Carlos shared about his son. The friend told Carlos there was a place that can help babies like Marvin in Chichicastenango.

Carlos leapt at the chance that someone might be able to help his son. He knew Marvin needed special care, so they brought him to the medical clinic and nutritional program at ASELSI.

After an evaluation, baby Marvin was given a special bottle that allows him to drink along with providing part of the formula needed to help him grow. Medical staff at ASELSI explained that Marvin has a very good chance of being pretty much normal with the help of surgeries to close the gap on his face. But, before he could receive the surgeries, he needed to gain weight. He was placed in the Milk Program for undernourished babies.

When Marvin entered the milk program he was 4.8 pounds. He needed to be 13 pounds and at least six-months-old to have his first surgery.

After nearly nine months of care, regular feedings, and help from ASELSI, Marvin reached the 13-pound mark and his lip surgery was scheduled.

Through connections with another ministry called Health Talents, ASELSI was able to arrange the surgery to close Marvin’s lip. This would help him be able to eat better and continue growing stronger until he could have another surgery for his cleft palate.

While greatly subsidized, the US$250 cost of the surgery and transportation, plus other expenses would be high for Carlos who makes his meager living farming in the fields. It was a cost he considered worth it for his son.

On February 7, Carlos, his sister and little Marvin made the six-hour journey to the coast where they checked in at the clinic. A few days later, the surgery was done and after checkups, they all headed back to their home.

Spend even a short time with Carlos and Marvin, and one can see that this father and son have a unique bond.

“Very cute,” is how Carlos describes his relationship with his son.

Marvin receives around-the-clock care with the help of Carlos’ sisters. One of them takes care of Marvin during the day while Carlos works in the fields. Then in the evening and night, Marvin is with his dad.

 “I take care of him a lot,” he said. “Sometimes he cries 3-4 times at night.”

Despite a lack of sleep at times, Carlos loves his son.

“I am going to take care of him—always,” Carlos said.

As a father, Carlos has dreams that his son will have a great life, go to school, and grow.

Because of a dad and aunts who cared, along with the milk program at ASELSI, and the connection to surgeries and medical care, Marvin has that opportunity.

“Thank you for this program,” Carlos said of the ASELSI Milk Program. “It opened the way for the surgery for my son. It is very important. It helps a lot.”

Now that the first surgery is complete, Carlos is looking forward to getting his son’s second surgery when he is ready and moving forward with life, but he’ll never forget the support, care, and hope that he found at ASELSI. He said that he knows his son isn’t the only one with a cleft lip and palate. Now, he can share the hope and help that he found at ASELSI with others who need it too.


The ASELSI Milk Program is provided through generous donations of people like you. DONATE HERE to help more kids like Marvin have the nutrition they need to grow.