Other than my week in Honduras in July I have spent a great deal of time this summer caring for my profoundly disabled 16 year old stepson Jim. My St. Andrew family knows and loves him but I know that some readers of this blog series don't know him so here is a very brief description. Jim is non verbal, totally gastric tube fed, diapered and will always function at about a 9 month old level. He loves to snuggle, enjoys hearing the voices and laughter of other children, and is happiest when he has his favorite spinning toy. Jim makes his needs known with grunts and squeals and shares his delight with hearty belly laughs. Before heading off to NPH, I wondered what life in Honduras would be like for Jim. This is what I found.
At the NPH ranch there are children with varying levels of disabilities. There are hogares equipped especially for their needs. I visited both the girls' and the boys' special needs homes and was impressed by how involved the kids are. Their Tias and Tios have high but realistic expectations of what the kids can do. The other kids on the ranch include the kids in activities. I saw no evidence of exclusion or segregation but rather compassion, acceptance and friendship. Given Jim's profound disabilities he would not live on the ranch but would live in the capital city, Tegucigalpa, at Casa de los Ángeles which provides 24-hour care for over fifteen children with severe disabilities. Our group visited and had the chance to meet and play with the kids living there. I was truly moved by the outstanding level of love and care the children received. We learned that in addition to the loving care provided by staff, the children also receive physical, occupational, and speech therapy. When I shared a picture of Jim with the head caregiver she knew right away that I understood what it takes to provide that level of care. I can say with complete sincerity that Jim would be well loved and cared for were he to live in Casa de los Ángeles. Praise be to God!