PERU - 2014
Our main goal in the Peru initiative was to build a facility where children can learn and play. This 8-day initiative proved to be a successful one, and along the way we made some life-long friends. Below are the first hand stories, as documented by Amar and told by Padre Omar, of some of the children at the mission who have touched our hearts and changed our lives.
FRANCISCO SANCHEZ (20 MONTHS)
Francisco Sanchez is a 20-month old boy with deformities in his hands and feet. When he was only one, he was found sitting on the floor in a small market. Those who found him called the police and the policeman was unable to find any identification on this child. They decided to call him Francisco.
Francisco was suspected to have had a case of Downs’ Syndrome. After doctors ran some tests, they found that it was a mild case. The deformities in his hands and feet however, ended up being the result of his mother’s drug consumption during pregnancy.
Despite his situation, Francisco is a happy child. When we met him, he was always laughing and was happily jumping around in his baby jumper. Though he cannot walk, he is very keen to move and show his enthusiasm.
JESUS DAVID (6 YEARS)
Jesus David is a 6-year old boy with brain paralysis. Prior to his birth, Jesus David’s mother tried to abort him four times. At six months, one-week, Jesus was aborted, though he was born alive, with brain paralysis and a heart problem - both conditions that have affected his movement and ability to walk.
Shortly after his birth, Jesus David’s mother left. Although his father stayed with him for five months, he was later caught robbing a bank and sentenced to 25-years in prison. After his father’s incarceration, Jesus’s grandmother took him in, when not long after that, his mother tried to end his life by throwing him against a wall by his feet. Miraculously, Jesus survived, and the mother was not found.
After a terrifyingly trying childhood, Jesus is learning learning some words, and although the adventurous child in him desires to walk and play like other children, his condition does not allow him to do so. Jesus David loves to watch TV and is a quick learner. He hugs freely.
LUIS MARIA (34 YEARS)
Luis Maria is 34 years olds. When he was taken in, his true age was unknown - through some dental examinations and tests, dentists were able to determine his approximate age.
Luis suffers from mental disabilities, paralysis of his lower body and epilepsy. He was found in a small town called Sullana in a garbage dump. It was clear that Luis was left in Sullana from another village, because in a village so small, everybody knows one another and especiallythe handicap person who has to move around by using his arms and dragging his lower body. Those who found him took him to a house of Nuns, who unfortunately could not keep him, as they only took in girls. The Nuns called Father Omar, who tried to call several organizations, but nobody would take him in. At that time, Father Omar did not have the organization and began working as a taxi driver to accommodate Luis and his needs. This is how the organization came about. Luis knows few words, but can be very funny with them!
JESUS GABRIEL (4 YEARS)
Jesus Gabriel is a mentally disabled 4-year old boy who suffers from Macrocephalia caused by malnutrition. When Jesus was born, his mother knocked on the door of a relatively poor family, asking them for help. The family took both Jesus and his mother in, which allowed his mother to work as a maid.
Soon after she started working, Jesus Gabriel’s mother took off and never came back, leaving the poor family to take care of her baby. When Jesus was brought to the police, they took him to Father Omar.
At night, Jesus Gabriel cries, clenching both of his thumbs in his palms and needs to be comforted by workers. By day however, Jesus is always laughing, loves getting hugs and kisses and loves having his picture taken.
NOELIA & GENESIS (12 & 10 YEARS)
Noelia (12 years old) and Genesis (10 years old) are sisters who share the same mother, but have different fathers. While both girls suffer from bodily disabilities and Schizophrenia, Genesis also suffers from epilepsy.
Their mother passed away, leaving these two girls, along with their younger brother in the care of their aunt. One day, aunt left, taking their baby brother with her and never came back. The girls were left alone for 10 days with no food, no clothes and nobody to take care of them. They were in bad condition when found.
Noelia and Genesis are quiet, but play amongst themselves and each other. While they have no major health issues, their lack of ability to communicate has left the girls in need of extensive attention and care from the staff.
ADA MILAGROS (4 MONTHS)
Just 4 months old, Ada Milagros was born to a 15-year old mother with severe mental health complications. Her mother, the victim of rape by her stepfather, rejected the baby and showed no desire to to hold or feed her newborn.
With the help of this facility, Ada’s mother spent several months their care and attention, and has now formed a bond with her child. Ada’s mother has become protective of her child and even smiles when she is told that her baby is cute, and continues to work on taking care of her child.
JOSEPH VARIGNOVA (14 YEARS)
Joseph is a 14-year old boy with a mental disability and a mild case of Schizophrenia. His mother came to Peru from Ukraine, transporting drugs. She was caught at the airport and while in jail, she met a Peruvian man with whom she had Joseph.
Joseph was born in jail and lived there for the first six years of his life. His father passed away in prison, and after her release, Joseph’s mother started to work on the street. One day, she left Joseph with a friend and never came back.
Joseph is a calm boy who loves to dance. He never complains and communicates enough with the ability to have short conversations.
SALVADOR (6 YEARS)
Meet Salvador. He is a 6-year old boy with a condition called Hydrocephalus (water in the head). Salvador arrived at Father Omar’s facility one year ago, after being left at the hospital by his mother at the age of 5. His mother had brought him in to be treated for lung complications, and after having spent several days at the hospital by himself, nobody came back to pick him up.
Salvador had a minor surgery, which keeps the fluid from building up in his brain, and while he is still moving slowly, his condition has significantly improved since his arrival at the facility. He still hopes that his mother will come back one day.
FABRICIO (6 YEARS)
Fabricio is a healthy, six-year old child who was born to a 19-year old mother who worked in the streets. His father was a 72-year old man with several other children and grandchildren. Fabricio’s father tried to take him in as a baby, but his father’s family refused to take Fabricio in, and ultimately rejected him.
Fabricio was then handed back into the care of his mother, who was in no condition to take care of him. His 92-year old grandfather attempted to take him in, but soon after realized he was much too poor to take care of Fabricio on his own. After knocking on several doors in the poor village of Lurin, asking people to take the child in, his grandfather knocked on the door of a Nun, who worked in the same chapel as Father Omar. The Nun called Father Omar, and at just six months old, Fabricio was taken in to the care of Father Omar.
Fabricio is a happy child, who now has both a mother and a father. His father, Marco, battled a drug addiction until Father Omar took him in. Father Omar introduced Marco to Fabricio, who instantly started to call him “Papa”. With Father Omar’s help, meeting Fabricio changed Marco’s life, and he gave up drugs. Marco began working at the facility and is now Father Omar’s right-hand man.
Marco met his wife at Mass, and introduced her to Fabricio. They got married and now have a baby girl – a sister to Fabricio. The four of them live happily at the facility.
AARON (9 YEARS)
Nine-year old Aaron suffers from mental health complications. He was found alone, roaming the streets, asking people for food. When police found him, Aaron could not explain where he lived. The police found Aaron’s mother in a hospital, where she had been for three months, recovering from a physical assault that left her in bad shape. Pregnant and hurt, Aaron’s mother did not want him, so police brought him to the mission.
Aaron had been sexually assaulted, and it is suspected that his stepfather had molested him. However, Aaron will not identify his assailant, because he is either too afraid, or fears hurting his mother. Since his arrival at the mission, Aaron is getting better and better with each day. Aaron is a good boy and his condition is slowly stabilizing.
ESTRELLA (4 YEARS)
Little Estrella is a four-year old girl with Autism. She was found one block away from the local police station. Somebody had cleaned her up, bathed her and pack her bag with diapers and clothes and left her near the station. Estrella was left there intentionally, with the hope that police will find her and know where she can be cared for.
Shortly after her arrival at the mission, it was very difficult for Estrella to adapt to her surroundings, and she became extremely apathetic. She is currently in therapy, and slowly changing.
MEDALIT (13 YEARS)
Medalit is 13-years old and severely mentally disabled and cannot verbally communicate. She comes from a small village in the Jungle called Yhuanuco. Unable to take care of her, her parents left her in the care of a grandparent.
For five years, Medalit was kept tied up in a cage, like an animal. A passerby, who saw Medalit in her cage, informed the police of the situation, who then came to her rescue. When she was rescued, police discovered that Medalit had a genital infection, lice on her head and open wounds on her skin.
After arriving at the mission, Medalit was still too used to the ways of her early childhood upbringing. At dinnertime, she would take food from her plate and put it on the ground before eating. She did not want to use the washroom like the other kids.
Medalit is doing much better now. She is more social, and loves to say “Papa”, as that was the first word taught to her by her caretakers.
SAMANTHA (8 YEARS)
Samantha is an eight-year old girl who suffers from brain paralysis, lung complications and depression. She was discovered lying in the front seat of a taxicab, with her head on the driver’s lap, by a passenger. The driver told the passenger that she was very sick and nobody was available to take care of her, as his family lived in a small town, far away. The passenger raised a campaign to help Samantha’s father, but her father did not put the money towards helping his daughter.
The passenger then brought Samantha and her father to the mission, and gave the rest of the money to Father Omar, to help him care for the little girl. After leaving Samantha with the mission, her father rarely came to see her. Samantha became very sick, so Father Omar called her father to come visit, but he never came back. Samantha became very depressed. Although she is now stable and being taken care of at the mission, she was a much happier and healthier girl when her father used to come visit