Since I have returned from the US, much has been happening here in Casa de Esperanza. And, praise God, all of it’s good.
Our biggest news is that we have received our second resident with special needs, Alberto, who has come to us from his home in the Peten region of Guatemala.
While our initial hope was to receive young adults who had been institutionalized, Alberto is a special case. A few months ago, Cesar approached me saying that he knew a young man who lived in northern Guatemala who wanted to come to Hermano Pedro so he could go to school. As we visited, it became apparent that the orphanage was not somewhere he would receive the kind of education he was looking for.
Alberto is 25 years old and has been living with his aging grandmother. He has osteogensis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease. His father and brother dearly love him, but their home is on the side of a steep hill, and there is no way Alberto can move around there safely. The slightest fall can cause a broken bone in his fragile legs.
Though he has never attended school, Alberto can both read and write. His cousin taught him to do so. His greatest desire is to receive a formal education and the diploma that goes with it. His greatest concern was to be part of a church and faith community while he did this.
After talking with Dick and Cesar, it became apparent that Alberto was perfect for our house. It was agreed that he would come down to Antigua and stay with us on a 3 month trial basis.
The last weekend in November, his dad and brother brought him down to Guatemala City by bus, and Dick and Cesar went to the city to bring him to Antigua. Dad and Brother we able to spend the day and night with us and get to know us a bit.
Meeting them, I realized how great a sacrifice it is for this family to let Alberto move so far away. They have spent the last 25 years trying to take care of him, and protect his legs from harm. Turning him over to strangers, though he wants to be here, has been very hard on them. I’m so glad they got to actually see where he would live and spend some time here.
It seems that Alberto has settled in quite well. At first he was pretty quiet, but now has begun to joke and tease along with the rest of the guys. While he can move around quite freely within the house, his mobility in the community is limited by his manual chair, which does not handle the bumps of the cobblestone streets too well.
This should be remedied shortly, when Dick and some of the boys return from a trip to Playa Grande, where they will pick up Alberto’s power wheelchair. While he can propel a manual chair well within the house, it is impossible in the streets. And, given the fragile nature of the bones of his legs, he is in constant fear of the chair tipping over and him falling and hurting himself. The stability of a power chair will give him the confidence to venture out.
If there is one prayer request I would ask for Alberto, it is that he would become less fearful. I understand how delicate his legs are, but can’t help but long for the freedom I see in some of the kids here with brittle bone, who cautiously venture out to take on the world, accepting that the possibility of injure is always with them, but not letting it hold them captive.
Thanks to the generosity of his sponsors, we will be hiring a private teacher to come in and work with Alberto, and he will begin his formal education in January!