When he arrived at Casa Shalom, it was almost impossible to believe the little boy was old enough to help with chores, let alone old enough to work in corn fields, harvesting the crop by hand. But that's exactly what he did before coming to the orphanage. Juan José was 9 at the time, but when he came to Casa Shalom in 2011, he had been working for many years alongside his elderly father, who was 72 when Juan José was born. His mother had passed away and Juan José's father was simply unable to provide adequate care for the child. Instead of attending school, the tiny boy worked long days harvesting the corn, which was many times taller than him, by hand. He came to us completely illiterate, having never attended school in his life. Juan José's short stature was due in large part to extreme malnutrition which is all too common in Guatemala. Communication with Juan José was difficult at first because he spoke very little Spanish; His first language is Kaqchikel, an indigenous Mayan language. Since arriving at the orphanage, Juan José has become proficient in Spanish, and has become an outstanding student. On his most recent report card, he has earned the equivalent of an "A" in all of his classes, including a 100% in 3 subjects! We are so proud of this special young man and the effort he's put into his studies. We are excited to see what the Lord has in store for this straight-A student!