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The Angels of Anapra help people in need
By: Stephanie Guadian - A group of Catholic nuns cross the border into Juarez three times a week. They did so even when the city was considered the most dangerous city in the world.
Sister Janet Gildea is a member of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.
When we first started, I thought to myself every child in Anapra is a special needs child because of the desperate poverty, said Sister Gildea.
Colonia Anapra is located just outside Juarez. Many of the homes are made out of cinder block, sheet metal and cardboard. The families who live in them don't have running water or sewage. And for the parents of special needs children -- life is even harder.
The roads in many cases are not paved. So, even if you have a wheelchair -- trying to push a wheelchair on a road that is dirt is difficult, said Gildea.
Sister Gildea helps run the Santo Nino Project. It's a day program for children with special needs.
Some 40 families, who cannot afford to go anywhere else for help, walk through the door every week.
We work with the mothers to develop their ability to do therapy for their own children, said Gildea.
The lessons include massage, physical therapy, nutritional support and socialization. Many of the childrens brothers and sisters attend the day program. They play and also learn how to live with their special sibling.
Miriam is a young woman who has autism. Her mother passed away and her family couldn't control her.
They basically kept her locked in a shed behind the house. And they just put food in through the door. And left her in there most of the day, said Gildea.
That changed the day Miriam's family brought her to the Santo Nino Project.
That day she was spitting and kicking and thrashing out at us. She caught Sister Carol with a couple of good clips, said Gildea.
Today, Miriam is living with another family. She is able to feed, wash and dress herself -- and perhaps most importantly, be with other people.
Stories like Miriam's have inspired the sisters to make the trip across the border for 10 years now -- even when Juarez was considered the most dangerous city in the world.
We prayed about it. And we talked about it. We really deliberated and we really felt we couldn't go. We could not -- not go, said Gildea.
For more information on the Santo Nino Project and how can help go to http://proyectosantonino.org/.
Black and White photos Courtesy: Michelle Frankfurter