By Lindsay Allen | Project Manager: Americas World Orphans currently has more than 40 projects in 12 countries around the world. Naturally, the varying cultures, expectations, and regulations shape the way our projects are developed and maintained. Even within one country’s borders, no two projects look identical. Navigating the cultural norms, customs, and appropriate practices in so many varying communities certainly has its challenges. But, it also brings a beautiful diversity to our ministry. Whether it’s a refugee camp in Iraq, Home Based Care in Haiti, a residential children’s home in India, or economic empowerment programs in Ethiopia, we are constantly exploring the best ways to care for orphans and preserve families.
One of our more unique partnerships is an organization in Nicaragua named Tesoros de Dios, meaning ‘God’s Treasures’. This ministry works specifically with children and families that are suffering from the effects of physical and mental disabilities. The facility offers a variety of therapies for children and provides support groups for caregivers. Here, children receive needed treatment to help them meet their potential, and parents are educated on how to provide care for their special needs child.
Tesoros de Dios also does outreach to local churches and schools, providing Biblical teaching about our responsibility to care for these children whom society too often casts aside. Much of the training focuses on inclusivity and education for both churches and schools, as they learn how to engage and care for these families well.
I want to share the story of Mateo* with you. Mateo was born with a seizure disorder and began visiting Tesoros de Dios at 3 years old. He had poor muscle tone and could not walk on his own. Now, after 3 years of therapy, he is able to walk and run! Mateo’s mother was also concerned about his hearing and delayed speech abilities. A speech therapist began working with Mateo and his family to determine what issues he is facing and create a plan to improve his speech. Mateo’s mother was encouraged by the speech therapist as she learned practical ways to assist her son.
Every year, the children are treated to a water park visit. It is the only time Mateo ever goes to the pool. He has so much fun playing in the water! During his last visit to the pool, one staff member was able to work with him on water therapy treatment. They practiced walking and balancing, and he had a blast!
Sadly, in most societies throughout the world, families are shunned by their own communities when they have children born with disabilities. These communities are convinced that the disability is a curse or punishment for the parents’ sins. Worse yet, these children are vulnerable to abandonment, neglect, or murder.
We are so thankful for the work God is doing in Nicaragua through Tesoros de Dios. At Tesoros de Dios, hope is triumphing in children whose lives initially seemed hopeless. Mateo and others like him truly are “treasures of God”. It is encouraging to see the church stepping up to its responsibility to love and protect these precious children.