Eight-year-old Rachel and her family live atop a lush mountain in rural Costa Rica, about 30 minutes from the nearest town – Cartago. She enjoys taking care of her pet hamster, and playing on her swing outside in the fresh air. She attends a one-roomed schoolhouse, and her favourite subject is Math. Her father operates a farm, growing broccoli, potatoes, onions and carrots and Rachel’s mother, Valentina, takes care of Rachel and her younger brother.
While pregnant with Rachel, Valentina suffered complications with her health. Despite the medical team treating her complications, when it came time to deliver Rachel the family and medical team were surprised to discover that Rachel had a bilateral cleft lip and a cleft palate. The rural hospital was only prepared to address standard deliveries. Much to Rachel’s mother’s discomfort, this meant separation from her newborn baby for 8 days while Rachel remained at the hospital.
When Valentina learned about Asociación LPH, she was overjoyed to learn she could receive the support she needed to help her daughter thrive. When the time came for Rachel to receive her palate surgeries, the family had to travel for 3 hours by public transport into the capital city, requiring multiple transfers and a long period of walking. They were relieved to have been able to stay at LPH’s hostel facility so they could remain close to Rachel while she recovered. To them, this short-term accommodation acted as a second home.
During her first years at school, Rachel had access to speech therapy through the Ministry of Education, but this was not effective for her unique needs as a child with cleft. She was unable to thrive and progress.
To better assist her, Rachel began working with Carolina at LPH one-on-one. The association has helped her with transportation and provided access to the hostel when in-person visits are necessary. Whenever possible, Rachel receives her speech therapy through telehealth so that she does not have to travel long distances regularly. With Carolina’s encouragement, she has dramatically improved her pronunciation of the ‘s’ sound.
Rachel is proud of her progress in speech therapy and Valentina sees a bright future ahead for her daughter.
Rachel and her mother
Enjoying the swing set