Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The plight of Special Needs Children in Guatemala

We have been very fortunate to have had a lovely couple here who were volunteering . Ben is an Occupational Therapist and his wife , Mary is a midwife. 
They also had a friend join them after a two weeks who was also an occupational therapist.

Ben specializes in helping special needs children so we gave him a list of the children who are special needs and arranged for him to visit them.

The findings of his visits were very sad and quite shocking.

One young 4 year old girl was sent home from the hospital to basically die.
She is having trouble swallowing and the mother is trying to get liquid down her throat.
She was terribly dehydrated and malnourished.  
We asked the mother to bring her in on Friday so that the doctor could put a tube in her throat and get liquids down her.

Another boy, he is now about 11 years old, and some of you may remember him. He has this unusual medical problem that his legs are growing and very , very thick and painful to walk looks like he has huge muscles....We have had several doctors look at him ( Guatemalan and U.S ) and all have suggested that the only thing to do is to amputate his legs.    Obviously, his parents do not want to do this. 
This young boy has a miserable does his mother.  He sits all day on a bed that has no mattress.....he has barely any movement because his arms are now being affected.  He is either losing the ability to move his arms or his muscles are weak from not being used.   His father is an alcoholic and does little to support the family. The mother has to go to work , working in the fields or washing clothes, whatever she can get to be able to feed the family.  This means that the boy is left alone , sitting in a small, dark room with no one to talk to , nothing to eat, unable to get out of his bed to go to the bathroom. 

The room that they live in is very tiny...and it is located in San Antonio Palopo.    Their home is  reached by walking up very steep path. The mother used to carry him on her back when he was younger so she could bring him out but now it is impossible for her to do that.

Jose , the boy , used to be able to go to school but no longer. We have arranged for the teacher to go to the house 3 times a week and help him to learn to read.
When Ben , the O.C. went we sent books, puzzles and lego blocks with him. Jose LOVED this.

Every child that Ben visited we sent several packs of emergency food and toys for them to have something to play with and to have some stimulation.

We knew the situation would not be good for these children, but really we had no idea how bad it was.

We are going to put a page onto our new website ( yes...we have a new website eventually coming out !)  and it will be devoted to special needs children ....if you know of anywhere we can apply to get help for these children, please let us know or even contact them yourselves and ask about help.

If anyone would like to help Jose...his needs are great but very basic.
He needs  a mattress.
A bath chair so that he can be bathed and also use it as a toilet . His "bathroom" is a shack, it is hard to reach, the door is narrow and his mother has to carry him on her back to get to the is just a latrine in a makeshift structure.
The family needs food.
Jose needs to be able to get re-evaluated again by a doctor in the city.
He is also having a lot of pain in his legs now, he was crying the day that Ben visited him.  He needs to have medication.
A radio or a portable dvd player so he could watch movies would be an incredible gift for him. .

When I feel like I am having a bad day...I am going to remember Jose's mother!

Sharon Smart-Poage
registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity

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