Child Of The Month
By Rich Petersen
Juan Paul M.
Juan Paúl is 14 years old and lives in Ajijic with his parents and four siblings. Juan Paúl was born blind, but that didn’t deter either his family or him from learning to lead a “normal” life. In Guadalajara there is a special school for deaf and blind children (the Instituto de Capacitación de Niños Ciegos y Sordos– Training Institute for Blind and Deaf Children.) He did all his primary education there and was where he learned to read and write Braille. This meant that since the age of five he went to school every day on the bus, accompanied by his mother. She would stay and wait for him while he was in class and then they would return to Ajijic. There are four other children in the family, so this determination to help Juan Paúl was a big commitment on his mother’s part, not to mention the other members of the family who had to take turns caring for the other children.
When Juan Paúl was 12 and ready for “secundaria,” the school in Guadalajara felt that he could be integrated into the regular school system as he was very proficient in Braille and was doing well with his schoolwork. Initially this move was unsuccessful because of bullying and teasing in the local high school, so he was changed to the Ricardo Flores Magón High School in Jocotepec, where they have a special needs teacher who works with Juan Paúl on a daily basis.
In October 2011 his mother enrolled him with Niños Incapacitados, for the most part to help with the transportation costs of visits with his ophthalmologist in Guadalajara—he still suffers from itchy eyes and has to use special eye drops. Later in 2013, the family asked if we could help with the cost of the two daily round-trips from Ajijic to Jocotepec. Again, the bus is not a feasible option, but the family is fortunate enough to have a small car, so Niños Incapacitados is paying approximately 1800 pesos per month for the petrol costs.
Juan Paúl continues to do very well in school and is a “B” student. He is also quite musically inclined and plays the drums in the school band. One difficulty, however, is that his homework has to be typed out and handed in. One of our generous members donated a used laptop for him to use, and this was presented to him just last month. You should have seen the smile on his face! Ideally, though, what he needs is a newer laptop or tablet that doesn’t weigh so much, plus software with speech-activated text or other aids for a visually impaired person. A printer for use at home would also be a boon to his studies. It has been very rewarding to see Juan Paúl’s progress and to know that he has a teacher who can help him with his disability, as well as with the computer.
If you would like to find out more about the children we help and about our organization, please attend our regular monthly meetings at the Hotel Real de Chapala the second Thursday of every month—10:00 a.m. for socializing and coffee, meeting starts at 10:30. For more information about us and our upcoming fundraising events, please visit our website: www.programaninos.org Next meeting is Thursday, September 11.