The Blind Truly Lead the Blind in Tijuana
By Rich Reader and David Rizo
Angelica has joined our social ministry team recently. She was born nearly blind and today at age 22, only has 1% vision. She attends university and is studying to be a physical therapist thanks to a scholarship from Maximum Impact. While in high school, she sold make-up to earn a little money. A few years ago, her parents divorced, and each went their separate ways leaving Angelica the house for herself. She got a job in a movie theatre and travelsthere by taxi. The taxi drivers have learned to recognize her and are helpful by knowing her hours and being available. However, three times she has been bumped by cars while navigating the streets. Her brother moved in with her after moving from the US recently.
When we encountered Javier in our family visits, a blind man of age 40, he introduced us to David, a 12-year-old blind boy. When David’s exploratory surgery did not yield any hope, Angelica volunteered to teach him braille. In just 3 lessons he has learned his alphabet and is excited to be spelling words. Javier learned of this and requested lessons as well, so Angelica now has two students.
Recently we learned that Angelica wanted a new computer that had features that would enable her to read by greatly enlarging the letters and doing text to speech. Before we could line up a donor, she had arranged for the government to loan her the money, and she will have weekly deductions taken from her paycheck for the next 3 years.
A few years ago, Fr. Jesse OMI found that so many people needed more counseling than he could provide in confession. He arranged to hire Eduardo, a recent psychology graduate, and a long-time server in the SEARCH and youth ministry. Eduardo’s salary is paid by special donors in the US. Over these few years, Eduardo has had about 50 longer-term clients and another 100 that only needed a few sessions. With the youth ministries’ new program to provide services to migrants, Eduardo now also meets with them. Today he has a clientele of about 40.
Eduardo admits that it was hard hearing so many complex and extreme cases, so he sought the help of other psychologists, friends, his teachers, and the Oblate priests. When asked about how this must wear on him and the effects on his family of three, he merely responds that it is very rewarding. However, sometimes he feels guilty that he cannot do more in certain cases. Providentially, as mentioned in a previous article, Mildred just graduated as a psychologist, thanks to the scholarship program, and now has joined Eduardo. Mildred is also a long-time server in the church and youth ministries.
Having now mentioned Mildred and Angelica as beneficiaries of the scholarship program, we take a few words to express our profound appreciation for Max and Betty, from Our Lady of Malibu, who orchestrated the start of the scholarship program a few years ago. Betty just informed us that she is moving and will no longer be the administrator extraordinaire that we have all come to love. Our Lady of Malibu has sponsored over 100 students, changing the lives of the students, benefiting the community, and initiating a cultural change. Betty and the group from Malibu have made many trips to the Tijuana mission to award scholarships, applaud graduates, introduce sponsors to students, and dispense supplies. It is always one of the highlights of the year.