Child of the Month
By Rich Petersen
Minerva Guadalupe Becerra Enciso

     Talk about a doll! This little two year old is Minerva Guadalupe Becerra Enciso. Minerva lives in Ixtlahuacán with her mom, María Guadalupe, dad Fabián, and older brother Bryan who is three.
     Minerva was born with what is known as a meningomyelocele, a long word for a very serious disorder in which the groove which contains the spinal cord has failed to fuse and cover the spinal cord.  In the embryo, the neural plate, which will become the spinal cord, is supposed to start folding into a groove and then fusion of the groove occurs above it. One can think of the process as a zipper closing from above downwards, and in the case of meningomyelocele the zipper has stopped way too soon. The earlier this stops closing, the worse the situation can be, but in Minerva’s case the “good” thing is that for now she suffers only from lower limb paralysis.
     The child has had to undergo two surgeries thus far to close the spinal defect, and during one surgery a valve had to be placed to drain excess fluid. She is undergoing physical therapy twice weekly at DIF Chapala which has helped her to be able to sit up and move her head, actions which were not possible before. She was unable to even crawl. Thankfully Minerva’s birth defect has not caused her to suffer convulsions, and X-rays have shown that her hips and waist are developing as normally as possible. Her urine must be tested every two months to check for infection, as the bladder is very susceptible to paralysis due to the spinal defect.
     Niños Incapacitados has been paying for Minerva’s therapy and just recently has paid for a hip/leg brace and orthopedic shoes so the child can begin to learn to walk—with a lot of help from her mother and family. The progress, however, has been remar-kable. When visiting our monthly meeting just a few weeks ago, Minerva showed us how she can take several small steps while her mother holds onto her hands. She now even has a small walker and can hold herself up with that and move a bit around the house. Minerva’s mother told us she has seen a huge improvement in recent weeks.
     Minerva loves to “play ball” and to play with her dolls, who for her are her children. She will sing and move to music and loves to make lines in a coloring book. She’s a “daddy’s girl” but also loves her brother and her aunt Mary. According to her mom, Miner-va is very observant and likes everything at home to be neat and in order.
     We at Niños Incpacitados are hopeful that with continued physical therapy and use of her new brace and walker, Minerva will continue to thrive and develop as well as possible. It is heartwarming to see such a little soul becoming able to deal with her circum-stances at such a young age.
     On another note, Niños Inca-pacitados would like to thank Ramón and Claudia Contreras and Josefina García, plus all the other Mexican families and friends of our organi-zation, who worked so very hard to make the last “Help Create A Smile” Fair such a success. Over $71,000 pesos were raised, $40,000 of which came directly from our Mexican families and friends. Thank you!
     If you would like to find out more about our organization, please feel free to attend our monthly meetings on the first Thursday of each month at 10:00 a.m. (September through June) at La Nueva Posada in Ajijic. Our group is looking for new members, volunteers and donors to help our Mexican families in need.
     Check www.programaninos.org for more information on the organi-zation and how to make a donation to our efforts. Or contact our president, Robin Lawrason at 766-3070 or info@programaninos.org