Photo: Aliita

Carolina López Manzano didn’t set out to become a child-hunger activist. It just sort of happened.

The way she tells it, a few years back she was a normal middle-class Maracaibo mom, and though she’d always “liked to help”, the thought of starting a humanitarian foundation had never occurred to her.

But one day she heard about María del Carmen, a little girl who was five years old and weighed just 4 kg.

She looked like this:

María del Carmen, 5 years old, victim of severe malnutrition. 

The story broke her heart, so Carolina started asking people on social media if someone could donate a wheelchair to help her — because María del Carmén had cerebral palsy as well.

Then, without asking her, Carolina’s cousin posted photos of the girl on her Facebook page, alongside Carolina’s phone number. The post went a little bit viral in her community, and things got out of hand right away.

Hundreds of strangers started calling Carolina. “My voice was hoarse by the end of that week,” she tells me on WhatsApp, “because so many people called.”

The next thing she knew, her life had been transformed from standard Maracaibo mom to humanitarian relief network coordinator.

Three years on, Hanya Martínez and Bruna Brusut have joined Carolina to run Un Milagro de Amor. Together, the three of them scour Maracaibo and surrounding communities for children facing acute malnutrition or other medical crises. Then they do whatever they can to help.

When Milan-based Maracucha jewelry designer Cynthia Vilchez heard the story, she fell in love with the project right away. Like she does every year, she launched a holiday charity line through her brand, Aliita, with all proceeds going to Un Milagro de Amor. On her website, you can buy a lovely heart-themed gold necklace or bracelet with 100% of the proceeds going to Un Milagro de Amor.

María del Carmen, the girl who got this whole thing going, is going to be eight years old soon, and weighs 12 kg. Here she is, in Carolina’s arms, a few weeks ago:

Venezuela_HelpMaría del Carmen today: a much-improved soon-to-be eight year old. 

Un Milagro de Amor saved her life. Your Aliita bracelet or necklace can save more lives—and will look lovely under the tree, too.

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