It was another cold and hungry night at Antonio’s home. Dinner for a family of five tonight would be a box of crackers. It was all they had. To put even this meager food on the table, Antonio’s father had to work two jobs nearly 18 hours a day. Tonight, like many others, Antonio and his two older brothers went to bed with a painful gnawing in their stomachs. Just four years old, Antonio had only ever known hunger and poverty.
When Antonio’s oldest brother began looking pale and feeling weak, everyone thought it was just a lack of food. It wasn’t. A check up at the local clinic set off an alarm bell. After tests, the doctor called Antonio’s mom and dad into his office. Antonio’s older brother was dying from leukemia.
His only hope was radiation and chemotherapy treatments at a distant hospital. Since they had no car, Antonio’s mom was forced to take all the children for a three-hour bus ride several times a week to get the brother to the hospital. On those days none of the children attended school.
That brought the family to the attention of Child Protective Services. Along with the family’s crushing financial problems, the social worker was especially concerned with Antonio’s health and education. A child’s brain develops rapidly in the first five years of life. A good diet and a quality preschool program are critical.
“I feel that there is hope today when I thought that there was none when this started.”
Antonio was immediately referred to the EMQ FamiliesFirst “First 5 Power of Preschool” program. There for the first time in his life, he got nourishment for both his mind and body. The family also received additional financial aid that allowed them to purchase a van for taking Antonio’s brother for his treatments.
The help they continue to receive from EMQ FamiliesFirst has saved the family from disaster. Antonio’s dad and mom feel that the family can now survive and that a better life is ahead. Antonio has now graduated from preschool and is an active, fully engaged, and top performing student in kindergarten.