A Special Place for VERY Special Children
|This is the U.S./Mexico border near the Lord's Ranch. Left of the wall is Anapra, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. On the right is Santa Teresa, in the U.S. state of New Mexico.|
When we cross into Mexico and drive along the wall there is nothing but sand, rocks and scraggly plants for as far as the eye can see. We drive and drive and then out of nowhere appears the small town of Anapra.
In Anapra people live without the luxuries that many take for granted: water, food, medicine, security, garbage disposal, clothing. The first time we visited Anapra my heart felt heavier than lead as I considered the overwhelming hardships that families endure living in these types of circumstances. I know that when reliable employment is unavailable that people's basic needs consistently go unmet and that the stress that this causes within families is more than anyone should have to bear. Substance abuse, domestic violence, teen pregnancy, suicide, and participation in illegal activities which promise hope for the future are all par for the course.
As we drove through the streets of Anapra I thought about the stress that every parent feels when his/her child is sick or suffering. I prayed for the little ones that we buried in Peru who died of preventable illnesses because they didn't have access to proper medical care. I thought about how difficult it would be to raise kids with so few resources and prayed for the mothers that we passed who had a line of little ones in tow. It wasn't until we arrived at "Guadalupana" that I considered the real impact of poverty on families with chidren who have special needs.
Devastated by these circumstances, the Sisters of Charity were moved to action. Around 2002, "Proyecto Santo Nino" (translated as "Holy Child Project") began, the doors of "Guadalupana" opened for the first time, and the loving sisters welcomed those in most need. To read more about the customized instruction and neuro-physical therapy that the Sisters of Charity provide to children with extreme disabilities, please visit their website: www.proyectosantonino.org.
|This is the school that the Sister of Charity started in Anapra about 16 years ago.|
When the school first opened it was difficult to get the students to the school for their therapy and instruction. However, they now have a bus that travels all over to pick up the kids and their family members.
As the families arrive they gather in the main room. The kids excitedly begin their tactile exercises. Many of the parents circulate to assist kids in need.
Other parents sit off to the side and socialize. I'm embarrassed to admit that my initial impression of these mothers came from a place of judgment. After talking with them I realized how desperately they needed a break from the stress of their very demanding lives. I also realized that the moms found great comfort in talking with others who understood their hardships in a real way.
In the main room, there is an area that is often sectioned off to give a particular group special attention.
Today, when we were visiting, the younger kids with mental disabilities were doing an art project. This is one of the kids' favorite activities because it's something they NEVER get to do at home.
Throughout the day, kids are taken a few at a time to another room where the nuns, and those they've trained as helpers, provide specialized therapy which helps to correct the physical problems causing the children trouble. The nuns' specialties include neuromuscular therapy, physical therapy, and water therapy to name just a few. It was incredible to see children running around who had been confined to wheelchairs just a few short years ago! Thank you, Jesus, for using these humble women to rescue these families from the darkness in which they were living.
|Anna spent the entire morning translating so that these two women|
could talk and share ideas.
At Guadalupana our primary job is to play with the kids who aren't receiving individualized attention. Michael found a table of Lincoln Logs and had a bunch of fun building with the other kids.
Katelyn and Yadida have found a beautiful friendship in one another and seek each other out each time we go. As I watch them giggle and laugh together it's hard to tell who is having more fun!!
As our time here in Mexico comes to an end we reflect on the Lord's goodness. We thank Him for all the experiences we've had here which have increased our awareness of people's needs and deepened our love for His precious children.
We DO NOT KNOW exactly what lay ahead, but we DO KNOW that Jesus has a plan and that plan is good!
continue serving those in most need, please visit either:
Thank you and God Bless!
In HIM, Karen Carmody