Blog > Medical Supporter Appreciation Children with Special Needs > Enabling Mobility Part II: Maria Judith's Story

Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Enabling Mobility Part II: Maria Judith's Story
Grace White

As a child, Maria Judith suffered from a disease that caused a catastrophically high fever. With no access to basic medical care this fever left a lasting impact on her brain; keeping Maria Judith from being able to speak or control her limbs. The impact on her family has reached a critical point in the last few years. Unable to walk but growing rapidly, Maria Judith was still carried on her mother, Juana’s,  back like many women carry infants. Living in Agua Escondida, Juana had to carry Maria to a truck stop to get to a boat in order to get across the lake where help for her daughter could get help. The physical cost on Juana’s back and the economic cost of the trip alone have exhausted her, but she has never stopped advocating for Maria Judith.

Photo credit: Erin Crandell 

Though she cannot form words, Maria Judith has a lot to say. A happy girl, she laughs at jokes and enjoys stories. It is frustrating to see that the medical system in Guatemala that has failed this girl who had such amazing potential. Not only was Maria’s initial illness never given appropriate attention, but any hope of  improving her overall quality of life through therapy or other long-term medical care was quashed by financial limitations. Her needs are specific and great, and it looked as though Mayan Families would fail Maria Judith just as the health care system had.

However, Cathy Cudd-Allen, a physiotherapist, and her sister Sue Cudd attended our Children with Special Needs Christmas Party where they met Juana and Maria Judith. Maria Judith made an impression on Cathy, and when she returned last week she brought a specialized wheelchair that will fundamentally change the lives of Maria Judith and Juana. This wheelchair provides stability to Maria’s body, and even has comfortable straps to secure her feet. The first time sitting in this wheelchair, with all of her limbs secure, the relief and joy was immediate and obvious on Maria’s face. For the first time in her life, some of the constant convulsions that plague her were kept at bay and Juana could sit contentedly next to her daughter, knowing Maria sat securely.

Photo credit: Erin Crandell 

This wheelchair is adjustable in every way allowing Maria to continue using it as she grows, something Maria never would be able to find in her hometown of Agua Escondida. Another massive benefit that this wheelchair brings is that it can be more easily maneuvered on dirt roads- which for anyone who lives in Guatemala is absolutely essential! With maneuverability and stability, Juana can now move her daughter without significant strain to her back and danger to her daughter. What an incredible gift!

Photo credit: Erin Crandell 

The lengths that Cathy and her husband, Phil, went to to provide Maria Judith with this wheelchair did not stop with the wheelchair’s arrival. Both dedicated an entire morning to ensuring that the wheelchair fit Maria Judith exactly, maximizing the benefit of this wheelchair. Thank you, Cathy and Phil!

The Mayan Families Medical Program helps bring life-changing care to students like Maria Judith with complicated health problems and urgent medical needs. To help a student like Maria Judith, please consider donating today!

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