The challenges facing families in developing countries are many, including lack of nutrient-rich food, medicine, educational resources, and gainful employment. Imagine how much more difficult it is for parents of children with special needs who require additional resources to tend to their disabilities and ailments. Now consider Hirma’s plight as a single mother of four children—two with cerebral palsy— living in a poverty-stricken country and limited in how much she can work to support her children because of the time necessary to care for them.
Abandoned by her husband after the birth of her fourth child, Hirma is raising her family in a rural community outside of Chichicastenango, Guatemala, with no resources to care for the unique needs of her two sons with cerebral palsy. Each day, she must walk 10 minutes to the river for water and to wash her children’s clothes. It’s not the length of the walk that is distressing to Hirma; it is the daily decision she is forced to make on whether to leave her sick children home alone or struggle to find a way to get them to the river with her.
Hirma’s two oldest sons, Nelson (11) and Juan (10), are both in third grade and have shown a desire to become professors. Unfortunately, her other sons, Miguel (7) and Marvin (4), are unable to attend school because of their condition. As a result, Hirma must work from home so that she can care for them. She works hard, embroidering textiles from her home, her hands worn for a woman her age. But given the amount of time she must dedicate to caring for Miguel and Marvin, her income is only $15 a week.
While we continue to see an increase in the development of child welfare services in emerging countries throughout the world, unfortunately these support services are not yet available for Hirma and her family in Guatemala. As such, the Christian community is committed to providing critical aid and support to meet the specific needs for families in crisis. For Hirma and her children, such assistance means Miguel and Marvin can attend a clinic for therapy, while Miguel has received sturdy shoes to help him walk.
In the face of so many obstacles and with the deck stacked firmly against her, Hirma’s positive attitude and tireless devotion to her family is truly inspirational. It is their passion and dedication to life that drives organizations such as UNICEF, CAFO (Christian Alliance for Orphans) and Bethany Christian Services to provide vital assistance to make sure families like Hirma’s receive genuine help for a hope-filled future.