Mexico: Martha

Child injuries: the stories behind the statistics
December 2008

Juan lives with his parents, four younger brothers and two younger sisters in a small village outside Merida in Mexico. Aged 14 years, Juan no longer goes to school. He left school after the terrible tragedy his youngest sibling, Martha, suffered 18 months ago.

Martha – six years old at the time – had fallen into the well in the backyard of their house while trying to retrieve a toy. Juan was the first to reach the scene and called his father who was further up the road selling fruit.

Father and son ran to the nearest clinic holding Martha, who was limp and not crying. The doctors managed to resuscitate her, but she remained in a critical condition. She was transferred to a larger hospital in Merida where she stayed for many weeks.

A beautiful girl, Martha is now mentally disabled and needs help with all her daily needs. Juan is still very affected by this incident. He feels responsible for her fall into the well, convinced that it would not have happened if he had been there. At the same time, he is proud to show visitors the wooden barrier he and his father built to cover the well, to prevent similar incidents.