In 2022 a grant for $50,000 was awarded to Bitol Integral Development Association in the Diocese of San Marcos, Guatemala, for the financial assistance to hire three therapists for the Jawel program for children. The three therapists increased the number of patients to be treated, as each therapist can treat 35-40 children a week. The programs provide services to children who have not had access to physical rehabilitation treatment. Bill Ahrens, who works with the grant recipient as a medical director, wrote to the Foundation recently: “We…focus our work on children in the rural, mountainous altiplano area of San Marcos. It is very poor, and the culture is indigenous- most people speak the dialect Mam. There is virtually no access to meaningful medical care, especially for special needs children. In the culture of the Mam, a “handicapped” child is often perceived as the result of some fault of the mother, and many of these children were hidden in their homes. As this barrier has been overcome, the number of patients seeking help has exploded. Our program is based in the parishes of San Miguel Ixtahuacan, San Jose Ojetenam, and Tacana, where we offer speech and physical therapy to children with different capacities. Over 10 years we evolved from nothing to a program with 13 therapists, 8 of whom speak Mam.” The video below is of Mateo, who is in speech therapy, who is being fitted for hearing aids. In the video, the hearing doctor and Mateo’s mother both ask Mateo, ‘Escuchas?’ (‘Do you hear?’). Mateo’s reaction says it all!

“The grant from the Papal Foundation has allowed the programs in San Miguel and Tacana to add therapists to accommodate the increased number of patients. Thanks to the grant we don’t have to wait list anyone so far. For this we are extremely grateful”

– Bill Ahrens, Medical Director

Bill also sent to the Foundation office a series of beautiful “telas,” artwork on cloth made by the children for Christmas, made specifically as a thank you to the Foundation for its generosity.

Seeing Mateo’s reaction and seeing the Christmas artwork from the children in Guatemala provides two really beautiful examples of just how impactful your generosity is, and how the work of the Foundation literally reaches those who have so few sources of help. Thank you for your continued support of the Foundation’s mission!