When Lady Navarro first held her son Iquer at the Bellavista Nanay Health Center in Iquitos, Peru, she noticed something different with one of his eyes. Five days later, Iquer was diagnosed with corneal leucoma, a vision impairment that means he is likely to lose sight completely in his left eye. UNICEF-trained chief nurse Clara Bustamante realized the family would need support.
Clara referred Lady and her partner Dennis to the local PRITE, a center that provides services for young children with disabilities or at risk of acquiring one. At the center, they get support and guidance from UNICEF-trained staff and meet other families with children with disabilities. During the sessions, Iquer practices fine motor skills and his parents learn about what’s important for his development.
“I have learned to dedicate more time to Iquer, time and affection is what he needs now.”Iquer’s mom Lady
Lady and Dennis make time for Iquer at home, practicing what they’ve learned at the PRITE, while also taking care of his two older siblings Luis Enrique and Kate. The family lives on the banks of the Amazon River in Independencia, an indigenous community that can only be reached by boat. Both parents work: Lady, at the family’s small shop and in the forest picking fruit, and Dennis, as a tuk-tuk taxi driver.
The family will celebrate Iquer’s first birthday in November 2019. When asked how he sees Iquer’s future, Dennis says, “I will support Iquer in whatever he plans to be and do. I want to give my children a profession so that they can be independent.”
Early care is key to give children the best start in life and help them reach their full potential. In Peru, UNICEF is implementing an early childhood development training programme for workers like Clara and the PRITE staff who provide health, education and protection services to young children. The training promotes parental involvement in early learning for all children and especially those with disabilities. The UNICEF program is supported by H&M Foundation and is part of a global initiative.