You can make a difference at Casa Gabriel, a loving home for handicapped children
South of Ensenada, in the little town of Maneadero, is an orphanage for handicapped children, known to locals and expats alike as Casa Gabriel.
This small establishment provides a loving and caring environment for handicapped children, who, through no fault of their own, are unable to care for themselves.
In many cases, their plight is the result of genetic defects. Others suffered debilitating injuries due to accidents, and still others are the victims of abuse, some of whom were rescued from drug-addled parents and came to Casa Gabriel with the police officers who intervened to save the children’s lives.
The orphanage was started in 1995 by an American couple, Ted and Renie Faver, who donated their own time and resources to ensure that Casa Gabriel always had the funding necessary to provide for the children’s every need. They lived on-site and were very involved in the day-to-day operation of the facility, as well as being very active fundraisers.
Unfortunately, the Favers are no longer able to participate actively, due to health and age concerns, and are preparing to retire to a care facility in Washington state.
That leaves the house totally dependent on the public for financial, physical and material support.
Local churches have been very generous in providing resources to help run the facility, and public donations of food and money have also helped to keep the home operational.
However, the last three months have been very difficult for Mirasol Huddleston, the Director of Casa Gabriel, because without the support of the Favers, it has been extremely challenging to maintain the level of care which each child requires.
Almost every one of the children at Casa Gabriel is severely physically handicapped, although many of them are intelligent and aware of their plight, as well as of their surroundings. Each one requires intensive one-on-one care, including bathing, feeding, physical hygiene, human interaction (education, entertainment, etc.) and any activity which involves physical coordination.
The people who provide these services to the children are all volunteers. Most of the volunteers are women, and most of them are single mothers (and, in some cases, grandmothers) themselves.
However, the expenses related to providing the housing and materials are never-ending, and donations from the public are greatly needed to ensure the continued operation of the facility.
For example, the rent and utilities are $720 USD per month; solid food (for those able to consume it) costs about $2,000 monthly, and the liquid diet (prepared on-site from fresh vegetables and fruit) for those who receive their nutrition via feeding tubes is about $800 per month.
Without the support of the founders, this kind of money has been almost impossible to generate on a consistent basis. According to Mirasol, the last 3 months have been especially difficult, with many prospective donors suffering from an overall tight economy, or perhaps being preoccupied with vacations or preparations for returning to school or work.
Casa Gabriel is appealing to the public for support – financial, material and physical.
Volunteers are always welcome to help in the kitchen, as well as with maintaining a clean, healthy environment for the children or with working directly with the kids themselves.
Donations of food, clothing, cleaning supplies, blankets, and toys are also gratefully accepted.
To truly appreciate the dedication these people have toward providing a loving environment for the children in their care, one must visit the facility personally. Visitors are always welcome.
Each child is a human being with a soul and a mind trapped inside a body that he or she can’t control. Only 1 or 2 of them can even speak. Yet most of them have some level of cognitive reasoning, and a few have even been able to attend public schools.
Take the case of Teddy, for example, who is now 14 years old and has been able to return to his family in San Quintin. He attended public school in Ensenada, where he learned to speak English! Years ago, Ron Keck, long-time volunteer and current board member at Casa Gabriel, gave Teddy a Spiderman outfit for his 8th birthday.
Teddy was happy to be the center of attention but wanted to share the joy with his little buddy, Marcos, so he gave him the suit, and they both celebrated the event together! Sometimes the children form bonds with each other, as well as with caregivers….
All of the children struggle to communicate and to be nurtured since they have been separated from their natural families. The volunteers at Casa Gabriel are the people upon whom they depend for not only physical care but for love and affection as well.
Some of the children will survive into their 20’s or early 30’s; others will die before they reach puberty.
The goal of all the people at Casa Gabriel is to provide a loving, joyful environment to these precious children for the duration of their lives on earth.
Unfortunately, due to the diminishing level of public funding, the home has had to transfer some of the children to other orphanages. The reason for this is that Casa Gabriel maintains a level of service to the children in their care that they will not compromise.
Please consider these children and offer any support to them that you can. Even a small effort makes a big difference.
To volunteer your time and energy, or to donate money, materials or food, please contact Casa Gabriel: [email protected] or visit their website: www.gabrielhouseofmexico.com.