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Sometimes, when you tuck into your favorite meal, you may go, “Wow, I could eat nothing else for the rest of my days!” Could you really? What if you never, ever get to taste anything else? This might be the case with Micah Gabriel Masson Lopez – a two-year-old boy from Montreal, Canada who lives only on peaches.
He suffers from a serious condition called food-protein induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES) which causes a severe allergy to virtually any food other than peaches.
Little Micah has hardly ever had a pain-free day. In addition to FPIES, he suffers from an immunodeficiency called DiGeorge syndrome and a rare genetic condition known as 15Q13.3 micro-duplication. Every month, his parents have to take him to nine different specialists, and the medical costs are taking a heavy toll.
So is the cost of ensuring a steady supply of peaches, which can be a problem to find off-season in Quebec. His parents are so desperate that they have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds that will help them with all the expenses.
Micah was diagnosed with FPIES at six months, and his life has been a constant struggle to hold his food down. Even his only safe option, peaches, cannot be consumed in any form. He can’t have them frozen, dried, or canned because of the potential presence of additives. The peaches must also be organic otherwise they could contain pesticides. As you can imagine, organic fresh peaches are not something readily available at all times, nor are they cheap.
“Living in Quebec, let’s just say peaches are very hard to find off-season. We are buying peaches in bulk and are running out of funds to do so, as we also have to pay for his complex medical needs,” says his mother, Caroline Masson.
With two other boys to look after, Micah’s parents are really having a hard time. And while costs are a burden, they want most of all to ensure that their baby is happy and free of pain.
“The first solid food we trialled was banana. He proceeded to vomit four hours later, six times in a row and pass out, pale and almost blue,” Caroline says.
She recalls the terror of the first time seeing her little boy go into shock.
“The first time I saw him go into shock from a reaction, I didn’t even know how to help him. I called 911 and they didn’t know what FPIES was. So, we just held our baby boy and cried with him throughout the night.”
Despite the cards dealt him, Micah is a lovely child, as the family say on their GoFundMe page.
“He is an amazing little boy with such a loving personality and loves everything and everyone. He has not had an easy start to life.”
Sadly, there is no cure for FPIES, but there may be hope for Micah. As his mother explains, most children suffering from this condition seem to outgrow it at about four years of age. For Micah, though, such a scenario seems unlikely: while most toddlers are allergic to 2 or 3 foods, he has 27 trigger foods plus other gastrointestinal problems.
Still, his parents aren’t giving up hope and are looking for other safe foods. They are experimenting with rabbit broth and the initial results are encouraging, but Micah is only able to keep down half a teaspoonful a day and that is far from enough. He can also tolerate a special liquid food formula whose cost will be covered by Medicare until October 2018. At that point, he will have to be tested again for dairy allergy to qualify for coverage.
Right now, his parents are hoping they can raise funds so that Micah can have his peaches and get his treatment.
“Life revolves around making sure he is the happiest little boy he can be — and for that, we need to be able to provide him peaches every day.”
This being the season of goodwill, let’s hope that Micah and his family get their Christmas wish.
More than 70 million displaced worldwide, says UNHCR
The number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million globally last year – the highest number in the UN refugee agency’s almost 70 years.
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The almost 70.8 million people forcibly displaced is up 2.3 million on the previous year, according to the agency’s annual Global Trends report.
This is also double the level recorded 20 years ago.
The number averaged out to 37,000 new displacements every day.
“What we are seeing in these figures is further confirmation of a longer-term rising trend in the number of people needing safety from war, conflict and persecution,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
“While language around refugees and migrants is often divisive, we are also witnessing an outpouring of generosity and solidarity, especially by communities who are themselves hosting large numbers of refugees.
The actual figure is likely to be higher as the Venezuela crisis is only partly reflected, the report states.
Around four million Venezuelans have fled their country, according to some figures from countries taking them in, making it one of the world’s biggest recent displacement crises.
The report identifies three main groups.
Firstly, there are refugees, or people forced to leave their country because of conflict, war or persecution. In 2018, the number of refugees reached 25.9 million worldwide, 500,000 more than in 2017. Included in this total are 5.5 million Palestine refugees.
The second group is 3.5 million asylum seekers. These are people outside their country of birth who are under international protection, but are yet to be granted refugee status.
Thirdly, there are internally displaced persons, or IDPs. These people are displaced within their country and amount to 41.3 million globally.
More than two thirds of all refugees worldwide came from Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia.
Syria had a considerably higher number than any other country with 6.7 million, followed by Afghanistan with 2.7 million.
Only 92,400 refugees were resettled in 2018, fewer than 7% of those awaiting resettlement.
The global population of forcibly displaced people has grown substantially from 43.3 million in 2009. Most of this increase was between 2012 and 2015 as a result of the Syrian conflict.
However, other conflicts have cropped up and continued across the globe, for example, in Iraq and Yemen in the Middle East, as well as parts of sub-Saharan Africa such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.
The massive flow of Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh at the end of 2017 after they were driven out of Myanmar’s Rakhine state during military crackdowns was another major crisis.
At more than 1.5 million, Ethiopians were the largest newly displaced population in 2018, 98% of them internally, more than doubling the previous number.
These were mainly attributed to inter-communal violence throughout 2018, with communities living along disputed boundaries most affected.
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