One week after Hurricane Odile swept through Los Cabos, I was asked to visit the homes of the Los Cabos children who are part of the Los Cabos Children’s Foundation’s (LCCF) Spirit of Joy and Spirit of Love programs and provide first contact after Odile. The goal; to inquire about the children’s health and identify any immediate needs of the family.
These visits came with mixed emotions. I suppose I wasn’t prepared to see the modest living conditions of most families. These parents have a compound challenge of raising a family with very little household income so the news of a child who is diagnosed with cancer or a heart condition is not only an emotional shock but an economic shock as well. Part of the amazingness of the LCCF programs is that the economic pressure linked to medical treatments as well as transportation to facilities, away from home meals and accommodations is alleviated significantly. With economic pressure drastically reduced, parents can focus on their children’s health and well-being.
Donation of non-perishable food and bottled water were provided to the families with the most challenging economic situations to help with immediate needs. It’s valid to mention that the children of the Spirit of Love and Spirit of Joy programs usually have more than 1 sibling. Mexican families value big, beautiful families much more than big, beautiful homes.
While the modest living conditions were obvious, it was evident that these children are living close to normal lives. In speaking with parents, I would inquire about the children if they were not at the front door, and all were either in the house or at a nearby park with a sibling or another adult. Schools were closed for 3 full weeks after Hurricane Odile. As far as most kids are concerned, Hurricanes allow for some extra play time!
I was also very pleased to see the reaction of the parents when I introduced myself as a LCCF volunteer. The kindness extended to these families from LCCF and associated grantee organizations are marked in the lives of these parents. I had the opportunity to listen to their stories. They explained the desperation linked with pursuing treatment through the local healthcare system. One family was sent out of state to an appointment with a specialist only to be informed that the doctor they were scheduled to meet had retired 30 days prior. Can you image the frustration linked to this disappointment and financial waste? Being connected with LCCF and caring, compassionate, competent medical professionals is nothing short of a miracle for these parents. The heavy burden is lifted and hope is strengthened.
Finding the homes of these families was often very challenging at times taking up to 2 hours. The address list was pulled from handwritten medical records (that are often illegible). Of course some families move and unfortunately streets and house numbers are not well labelled. I had to rely on the kindness of many people who were able to provide directions. Through this process, I knocked on the wrong door only to find that this family had a child diagnosed with a heart defect. They were thrilled to hear about LCCF. The next day while searching out another family, I asked a nice young couple for directions. Their 1-year old boy also has a heart defect. Both families are now in contact with Brisia, a LCCF employee in La Paz. Both children now have appointments for an evaluation with a cardiologist and if needed will receive corrective heart surgeries. LCCF begins its fourth round of corrective heart surgeries next month beginning November 12th. Indeed, my steps were ordered. What an absolute privilege to volunteer in this capacity.