Still at Hermano Pedro

A side benefit to me of the whole long process of Fidel being released from Hermano Pedro was getting to know the young men in the men's mental health ward.  I knew a few of them who had moved up from the children's area during the years I've been here, but many I knew only by sight, if that.  Now, when I walk in they get so excited they can't wait for me to greet each one.  And, believe me, I don't get away without talking to each one of them individually.  

Gaspar shed a lot of tears as Fidel prepared to leave

The reactions of the other patients to Fidel leaving have been varied.  A few definitely want to come and live with us and make this known in no uncertain terms.  Even one who is non-verbal gets his point across well when he drags me to the door and gestures to indicate he wants to come with, too.  It breaks my heart to leave him each time.  In getting to know the young men I realize that there are at least ten of them who would be appropriate for a house such as this.  Many need much less care than Fidel, and it's tempting to just jump in and take a whole bunch right away.  

Edgar is Fidel's best friend

Through much prayer and discernment, however, we believe we are to move slowly.  This is such a new concept in Guatemala that we have no one to look to for direction, and daily are having to figure out new bumps in the road such as paying for expensive medications,  fixing broken down wheelchairs, defining staff roles and finding coverage for sick staff.  It is prudent to iron out these issues while we have the flexibility of only one resident with disabilities.  But believe me, my mother's heart wants to take them all right now.

Willi always makes me laugh
And seldom do I see David without his trademark smile

One very special new resident is Osmin.  While he is 18 years old, I doubt he weighs 50 lbs.  He was been at Hermano Pedro only a few weeks.  I have to admit that the first time I saw him lying in bed with a feeding tube, I assumed he was cognitively as well as physically disabled. Man, was I wrong.  

Though he is pretty much immobile, the nurses are taking wonderful care of him and are managing to prevent bedsores. But lying in bed all day was really wearing on him, and coupled with his homesickness, Osmin was becoming quite depressed.  Dick had talked with him about the possibility of a power wheelchair, and he brightened substantially.  Dick then asked me to get to know him, too.

I have found Osmin to be a bright, alert, young man, who is desperately lonely.   In spite of his disability, he has completed fourth grade of primary school.  He misses his home and family in Quiche desperately.  He talks about returning home, despite the fact that his family cannot adequately care for his significant needs and this could mean his death. How I wish I could find something he would like to do, given his limited mobility.  I asked about reading, and he looked at me as if I was crazy.  (By the way, this is a pretty normal reaction from an 18 year old Guatemalan.  I get it from my boys all the time when I mention reading for fun).  I'd love to find some kind of tablet he could us, but there is no wireless in Hermano Pedro, so its usefulness would be limited, but I think still worth the effort.  If anyone has an old iPad or tablet laying around that they would like to gift to this young man, please email me.

The other day Dick managed to put him in a power chair which had been specially constructed for Osmin by Bethel Ministries.  The batteries were purchased by a donation from Carlos, a regular volunteer from El Salvador who has taken a special interest in Osmin.  And Dick and his boys did the final seating and taught him to drive it.  A great example of collaboration to get the work done!

Osmin took to driving his chair like a fish to water.  He was immediately traveling all over Hermano Pedro, explaining his chair and demonstrating its special features to all who would listen.  In fact, he over did it a little, and was in bed in the afternoon from a headache, probably from all the unaccustomed to movement!

Miguel visiting with Osmin as he recovers from his
morning of moving around independently for the fist time in years.
Please remember Osmin in your prayers.  Pray for his continued improvement (he is now off a feeding tube) and increased strength.  And pray that we can find some meaningful activities which he will enjoy to keep his mind busy and his heart happy.

You can see, I've gotten quite attached to this group of young men. I hope to visit them more often, so they know we remember them. I hope we can bring a few at a time over for lunch periodically, and to watch a movie.  There are a couple of wonderful male volunteers who frequently come to the unit, as well as the ever-faithful visits from Dick.  It seems, though, that as a woman I bring something unique to the unit.  I feel like "Momma" to so many of them who no longer have their own mothers.  

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