Gone too soon… we’ll miss you Mark

Mark Ramirez

About two weeks ago, we received the worst news since our sponsorship began. Mark Justin Ramirez, who dreamed of becoming a doctor one day, passed away suddenly. He passed away on February 1st, two weeks after his 8th birthday.

This is one of the hardest things to write because Mark deserves to be praised for being an honor student and scoring 85 on his report card this period, rather than being remembered on our website.

We connected Mark with a his sponsor Juan in December 2011, but we did not know about his serious condition until it was too late.

“Sometimes love doesn’t have to be just for the people you know. My heart hurts for his family and am truly sad God took him so early.” – Juan, Mark’s sponsor

We are still greatly shocked to learn the news, and in an effort to prevent another tragedy, we desperately tried to get more information. It was difficult to reach Mark’s family due to transportation issues (no proper roads and many hills to get to the remote village of Norzagaray.) Our volunteer Agnes finally visited Mark’s family a few days ago and provided us with a detailed report.

Mark passed away due to health complications caused by malnutrition, most likely due to lack of protein in his diet. Mark’s family could not afford nutritious food or the medication that was prescribed for Mark. If any child in America would die because his parents could not afford medicine, it would be a national headline. Unfortunately, Mark’s story would only remain in the hearts and memories of those who knew him in Norzagaray.

I feel a deep sense of loss as he was part of our family. He was one of our babies. There also lies the guilt that we could have prevented this tragedy if we had found a sponsor sooner.

Please keep Mark and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Mark used to sing Willy Revillame songs like this one:
I love you – willie revillame with lyrics

Here is an unedited letter from Agnes, the social worker in the village of Norzagaray who monitors Maya’s Hope’s monthly purchases for the children:

About Mark Justin Languido Ramirez, who passed away, he is the newest sponsored child, but when we knew that he was chosen, he was in the hospital for medication.

He is the eldest son of Cris. and Jonalyn, with 2 siblings: Cristina – 5 years old, and Cris Jr.- 3 years old. Mark is a grade 1 student, studying at Apugan Elementary School, an honor student, who got an average of 85 in his report card.

He is a kind son, he wants to be a doctor someday, he plays basketball and his favorite subject is Filipino, his favorite food is Ginataang Kamoteng Kahoy (cassava tops with coconut milk- a Bicolano- Filipino dish).

He loves to read as his pastime, he likes mickey mouse as cartoon character. Dancing and singing RAP songs, he sangs Willy Revillame’s songs. His teacher like him so much, that even he was absent for a week when he was hospitalized, she ask him if he is fine and ask his condition.

According to his playmates, he is kind and very active boy. Playing, laughing, running and jumping with them. They will miss the boy who smiles to everybody.

A neighbor told me that she feel pity with the family because when Mark got sick, they don’t know where to get money for his medication, his father is a helper only and had low income in which sometimes not enough for their food.

They send Mark at the Rural Health Center in our place, he was treated and given medicine, but because of poverty, he can’t eat nutritious food. At about a week, when they notice that his face has edema, he was sent again to the RHU and adviced to be confined at the hospital, there he stayed at 1 week, then back home, just the same.

They can’t afford to buy even the medicine he has to take, although their lifestyle is like that his parents tried to give what he needs, until the last 2 days of his life, he had edema again, he couldn’t eat, he told his father that his back is aching and suffers from pain. That day after the conversation, he suddenly cannot breathe and unfortunately died that time.

Relatives and neighbors helped the family, and until now, they have some accounts not yet paid because they don’t have enough money for it. Until this day that I have talked to his mother, LONELINESS is what I see to her eyes and longing for her eldest son who once, in her dream will help them in the future.

Ma’am Maya and Ma’am Leila, the parents of Mark, extends their thanks for the groceries that were given to them.

Sincerely Yours,


Malnutrition is globally the most important risk factor for illness and death, contributing to more than half of deaths in children worldwide.

Although death from malnutrition in the United States is rare, in developing countries, more than 50% of the 10 million deaths each year are either directly or indirectly related to malnutrition in children younger than 5 years.[1][2]

The World Health Organization defines malnutrition as "the cellular imbalance between supply of nutrients and energy and the body's demand for them to ensure growth, maintenance, and specific functions."[3] Women and young children are the most adversely affected groups; one quarter to one half of women of child-bearing age in Africa and south Asia are underweight, which contributes to the number of low birth weight infants born annually.[4]

Protein-energy malnutrition (PEM), first described in the 1920s, is observed most frequently in developing countries.[5]

Kwashiorkor and marasmus are 2 forms of PEM that have been described. The distinction between the 2 forms of PEM is based on the presence of edema (kwashiorkor) or absence of edema (marasmus). Marasmus involves inadequate intake of protein and calories, whereas a child with kwashiorkor has fair-to-normal calorie intake with inadequate protein intake. Although significant clinical differences between kwashiorkor and marasmus are noted, some studies suggest that marasmus represents an adaptation to starvation whereas kwashiorkor represents a dysadaptation to starvation.

Currently, more than half of young children in South Asia have PEM, which is 6.5 times the prevalence in the western hemisphere.