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Mission of Compassion
By Henry Howard
Aug 25, 2016
The Mexican resort city of Puerto Vallarta greets visitors with stately hotels on pristine beaches, a relaxing atmosphere, and unique dining and shopping options. Just a few miles from the vibrant coastline, however, garbage piles up alongside dirt and cobblestone streets. Graffiti marks buildings in various states of disrepair. Struggle is etched in the faces of those living here.
Outside the Busca un Amigo (“search for friends”) day care center, dogs and chickens scurry along the road. Inside, teachers, physical therapists and others bring comfort to 45 children and adults suffering from cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, schizophrenia and various other physical and/or mental disabilities. This is their safe haven.
Not only does the center help the children, it takes a heavy burden off the parents, poorest of the poor, who must work to survive and cannot care for their disabled children during the day. While the parents work, children at the facility receive care that includes two meals a day and a snack, basic lessons and therapy – exercise, music, dance, water and even equine activities.
For all of this, the parents are charged 40 pesos a day (roughly $2 to $3). For parents who cannot afford it, Busca un Amigo covers the cost.