Written by: Mark Wallace, Executive Director of Organizational Culture & International Partners
When the doorbell rings at Irma’s home in San CristÃ³bal, she eagerly rushes to unlock the gate to greet whoever is there. She has a warm and shy smile and is always willing to help around the group home she shares with Johanna and Blanca, her housemates who are like sisters. Irma has a developmental disability. In the last two decades, Christian Horizons Global has transitioned away from group homes toward community-based supported independent living and supporting families. When we first started our work in Guatemala over 30 years ago, group homes were the standard of care for people who experience disabilities. We quickly discovered that broader community development was needed.
Irma’s home is the last remaining group home in Christian Horizons Global. Irma has come a long way since we first met. In 2001, Irma was found alone in Guatemala City. She was fourteen years old. Through the group home, she has found a safe environment where she can use her gifts to serve others. She was able to go to school, and she now lives with a sense of purpose within the group home. Irma loves to help around her home, take care of the dogs, and support Johanna in moving around the house using her wheelchair.
Though Irma is no longer in school, she is still a part of our child sponsorship program because of her support needs.
We are looking at the next steps for Irma as she would benefit from a family home support situation. We are thankful for the support she has had and what the future holds.