We provide a lifeline of rehabilitation and support services for children with special needs.
For the physically disabled, Guatemala has been called perhaps “the worst place in the world to live.” Approximately 14 percent of the country's population is disabled. Simply put, there are not enough trained personnel or resources to detect and prevent disabilities, nor to meet the need for rehabilitation and supportive services. Moreover, the families we serve have no capacity to finance these services.
Together with our parish partners in San José Ojetenam and San Miguel Ixtahuacan, in 2014 we established two physical therapy centers to serve each community and hired a director, Elizabeth Barrios, to oversee a staff of six therapists. At any given time, our therapy teams provide physical and speech/developmental therapy to more than 150 children.
Working one-on-one with these children has helped us identify the need for specialized interventions and surgeries. Through our network of partnerships, we regularly refer patients for surgeries (including opthomology, neurology, cleft palates, and cardiology interventions) and are able to monitor their recovery over the long term.
As the centers become better known, MHI’s most pressing challenge is an increase in patient demand as families are traveling from other municipalities for the support we provide.