Last week I received a welcome surprise phone call from Hermano Pedro orphanage. Magda, one of the social workers, was calling to ask if we would consider accepting a nineteen year old young man, Osmi, to live in our home. He is currently in the teen boys unit at the orphanage, but has the potential to live in the community with assistance. His family is extremely poor, and unable to care for him properly in their home, so he needs somewhere to live where he can be well cared for. The staff believes we are his best option.
I was honored to receive the call, because those of you who have been reading my journal for a while will remember all the struggles we went through to get social work to agree that our home was a good place for Fidel to live, about 16 months ago. I believe it is evidence of the quality of care we have been able to provide for Fidel that the orphanage would initiate a placement.
In reality, Osmi has been in my heart since the day I met him. He came to Hermano Pedro the same month that Fidel left there to live with us. I met him at Fidel's going away party, and instantly fell in love with his tender heart and determined will. At this time, Osmi could only lie on his left side, could only move his left arm a few inches, and was wasting away. We all thought, the nursing staff included, that he was near death. It broke my heart to get to know him, since I really believed in a short time we would be losing him.
And this is where the miracle began. Carlos, a gentleman from El Salvador who volunteers at Hermano Pedro, got to know Osmi. He believed if Osmi could have some degree of independence and mobility it would encourage him and make what time he had left more pleasant. Dick agreed to construct a powerchair, doubting Osmi would ever use it, but willing to try anything to encourage this amazing young man.
(Click here to read more about Osmi during this period.)
The medical staff worked hard to properly identify Osmi's problem, and he was finally diagnosed with Scleroderma. This is an autoimmune rheumatic disease which results from an overproduction and accumulation of collagen. This causes a hardening of the skin and connective tissues. In severe cases, it also affects the internal organs and the digestive tract. Osmi has the more serious, systemic type of the disease. While there is no direct treatment for Scleroderma, treatment of the symptoms is helpful in controlling its progression.
With proper medication and physical therapy, Osmi made consistent improvement. He began to sit upright, and gained significant movement of his arms and hands. Using his powerchair, he began to travel the halls of Hermano Pedro, rapidly making friends with everyone he encountered.
|Osmi with his teacher, Carla|
He began attending classes with one of the Hermano Pedro teachers, Claudia, and he passed fourth grade this year. She discovered he is quite a good artist, and has encouraged this ability. He began taking computer classes at one of the Antigua computer cafes. And he wanted more. . .
|Osmi's drawing of Carla|
This was when Magda decided to contact us. Osmi wants to continue his studies, and Claudia is researching distance learning programs in which he can participate. She has offered to come and help "coach" him with this studies as needed.
While we are anxious to have Osmi become part of our family, there are some concerns that need to be addressed. Given his significant medical needs, we estimate that our budget will need to increase by about $4000 next year to cover the cost of his medications and care. We are negotiating with Hermano Pedro to see how they might be able to work with us to subsidize some of this added cost for at least the first year that he is with us.
We are praying, too, for donors to come along side us to help us absorb this extra cost. If ten people would commit to donating $400 during 2015 (that's about $35 a month) we will be able to care for this young man. We are trusting God will provide this, as He has all our needs, since we believe it is within his plan for both Osmi and our home that he should become a permanent part of our family.
The next step is getting the legal documents drawn up to formally transfer Osmi to our care. This is not difficult as we have already been through this process with Fidel. Since his parents originally signed the paperwork admitting him to Hermano Pedro, they must come and sign this forms for him to be released to us. This may take some negotiating, since they live in a fairly remote area, but the social work department is handling this. So we wait and pray that we will be able to begin transitioning Osmi to our house before Christmas. That would be the best present we could all receive!