This is stunted. A medical diagnoses resulting a child that is malnourished and underweight and has diminished mental capacities as well as a smaller brain. If caught before 20 – 24 months, it may be reversible. But not in this case. As in most cases, it starts with a poor diet for the mother before she gets pregnant, and poor diet while pregnant and then that poor diet, lacking in vitamins and minerals continues with the baby after birth.
A baby grows and develops on a set schedule. Certain predictable things happen at set times. Once that time has passed, the opportunity for proper growth and development has passed, never to return. For this child, that time has gone by. She is way too short and has that big belly you see on malnourished kids.
If you look at her she seems to be a cute girl. At about 3, she talks and knows what she wants. But when asked a question, she often does not answer because she lacks the ability to process information quickly. Her older brothers are the same. In their environment, they function. Up on a hill, in a shack, no electric, no water, eating rice and small bait fish. Every day. NEVER had vegetables. She is not toilet trained. Never saw a toilet until recently. Never saw a shower. Soap is optional and often just laundry soap.
I have been taking her everyday down to the charity building where she is better fed and watches TV and is able to interact with other kids and people. She does not talk to anyone but me and of course it is not in English, so it is lost to me. She uses hand signals a lot. Rarely cries. Is content to simply sit and watch and stare.
Before you think about asking if I had explained all this to the parents, look at their picture. Look at mom’s head. She too is stunted. It is not that they do not care, but more that they are not able to understand and are overwhelmed at any more responsibility than they already have. Of the 4 other boys there, none go to school. I doubt the girl will go to school. When I leave, the girl will be back on her usual schedule of being used by the parents to beg for money.
ALL of this was avoidable. This girl was offered to me for adoption before she was born. I declined, but after doing some research and finding that the Philippine government will not allow a foreign adoption for anyone I did not act but I was in a position to, if legal, in getting the girl to the proper attorneys to handle the situation.
At that time the local government was going to provide some assistance to the family. All they did was to give them some money. But no guidance as to what to do with the money. So the money ($25 a month) would be spent on some rice and fish and alcohol drinks for the parents. And the cycle continues.