There is nothing sweeter than seeing kids team up to help another kid – especially one they’ve never even met!
It all started with Ellen Finn, the founder of Project School Supplies. Ellen is known around Copán Ruinas for helping the kids from the mountain villages around town that most people have never even ventured out to. She builds schools, helps teachers and kids with school supplies, provides donations of furniture, runs a milk program for malnourished children, and is currently building a health clinic. All of this in the communities that are the most neglected or forgotten and have the greatest need.
Ellen told me the story of Manuel, a boy who was abandoned by his mother and spent most of his childhood locked in the house. Manuel never learned to walk. Ellen met Manuel because she often saw his brother or grandfather carrying Manuel on his shoulders into town and then back up the mountain – up a steep staircase of discarded tires – to their home. The family seemed to accept that Manuel just couldn’t walk, but Ellen isn’t the type of person to settle for the easy answer. So she helped his family take Manuel to a clinic in Santa Rosa (about 2 hours from Copán) run by Teleton, an organization that provides free health services for children with disabilities. The doctors examined Manuel and diagnosed him with muscular dystrophy. Amazingly, they told him that there were therapies available at the clinic that could help him one day walk. No one was expecting news that incredible. The medical services would be provided for free; the only thing Manuel’s family needed was the cost of transportation to go back and forth to Santa Rosa for the treatments.
I shared this story with our older kids at Casita Copán and they were immediately ready to help. Together, they planned a fundraiser to help the family with some of the transportation costs. They decided to sell food, so they made a menu, went shopping, and woke up early on Saturday morning to help prepare the food and drinks (with some help from our staff!). They decorated signs and set up a table in the park to sell baleadas, canches, horchata, and fresco de tamarindo.
Some of the kids stayed to man the table while others ran around to sell baleadas and others to collect donations from people sitting in the park. The kids were shy at first, but after they met Manuel’s brother and grandmother who came down to express their support, they warmed up. They worked together, dividing jobs and doing everything on their own, including managing the money and giving correct change. The kids were organized, friendly, and cooperative. We were all thoroughly proud of them! They were also proud of themselves as they counted the money at the end of the sale.
The kids will deliver their donation personally next week when Manuel comes back from his latest round of physical therapy. And they can’t wait!
If you want to find out more about how you can help Manuel and his family, visit the Project School Supplies website here.