A story from Peru by Mafe MMS

Nimia and family

It is 4:30 in the morning and the journey begins for Nimia. She must prepare breakfast for the family. Her husband leaves very early to work as a guard at an elegant Spa in one of the richest areas of Lima; her second child goes to the school and she has to bring the other two children to theirs. Then, she cleans the house, cooks, picks up the kids, goes with them to receive the therapies, does homework with the kids, feed them again and put them to sleep. Not to mention that often attends meetings of the Association of Parents of children with disabilities and goes every day to church. Besides all that, she works embroidering fabric to help with family expenses. Her day is fully booked. No time to complain or for getting ill.

Nimia married Riester seventeen years ago. Since thirteen years ago, the family lives in Pachacutec, one of the areas of extreme poverty in Callao. This slum is an isolated area, near the sea, exposed to extreme weather both in summer and in winter, devoid of all basic services for a decent life.

Their first child was Carolai, who was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at the age of eight months. She received therapies and medical care in different institutions of Lima and Callao, despite all the challenges that going out of Pachacutec with a child who could not move by herself, implied.

Three years after Carolai, Alonso was born. He does not have any developmental problem.

The third and youngest son is Jean Franco. A few months after his birth, they realized he had the same developmental problem that his sister. Because of that, Riester (the father) went into depression and did not assume household responsibilities well. He was unfaithful,complaining all the time and family life was very difficult.

Nimia began to seek help from institution to institution. That is how she came to us. She says that because of the reality of her children and the indifference of her husband, but above all her faith in God, became a strong woman, fighter, who also was involved in many community organizations to look for a better quality of life for all local families.

According to her, eventually her husband “met God” and began to see everything differently. He became an important support for his children and his wife.

Nowadays, Jean Franco is nine. He is a beautiful child, very intelligent and smiling. He had slowly managed to talk, sit, stand, and walk with support. His dream is becoming a Pastor, and enthusiastically attend their church activities (World Missionary Alliance). Jean Franco Prays a lot and cares about others going through difficult situations. He sometimes feels sad when cannot play soccer with other children or run with them but after a short while he is smiling again. He is included in a regular school, where the teachers, classmates  and the school principal facilitate his integration in the classroom.

Alonso has not had an easy life at all. Being in the middle of his two siblings with special care needs, has had to take unusual responsibilities for a child. He early learned to assist his mother in housework and care for his brother and sister and still have time for his school work. He did not ask the attention and time that other children do. He kept from asking for unnecessary things and even some necessary, understanding that the family had only for the basics. Now, Alonso is 14 years and behaves like a little adult in the best sense of the word: Very mature, mindful, patient, calm and loving. He says he wants to be a doctor and devote his life to helping children with disabilities. I asked him what he could say about his life and responds: “It was not easy but what I can say is that I love my two siblings so much that I would give my life for any of them”. Alonso says that most people do not understand children with disabilities, they do not know how to treat them, are afraid to approach and only feel pity of them.

Carolai is a beautiful 17 years old lady, smiling and friendly. She was unable to walk and must therefore be taken in a wheelchair. The deformity of her spine is quite marked and this causes many problems. She loves to learn new things. She and her brother attend the therapies and  workshops where she is learning to make handicrafts to have some income for the family.

Thanks to the dedication, commitment and loving care of their families and the team of our inter-Congregational, inter-organizational Community Based Rehabilitation program in Pachacutec, many children, like Jean Franco and Carolai, have a better quality of life. It has been a continuous process of rehabilitation: a journey with many ups and downs. They had dealt with indifference, corruption, deception, poverty and discrimination. However, they also found solidarity, generosity, love and friendship.

Two  years ago, the Association of parents of children with disabilities has been legally registered. Our dream is that in a few years they can accompany each other on the journey and take over the coordination of the program of rehabilitation.

by, Maria Fernanda Ramirez, MMS