What a year! For most, these last 12 months have been characterized by isolation, fear, and uncertainty. Mental health crises are rampant as families struggle with finances, separation from community support, and a lack of routine. Non-profit organizations that offer critical social services are struggling to keep their doors open. Political and social division seems to permeate every social media and news outlet. It can be difficult to find hope amidst so much hardship.
I find myself clouded by the same feelings of hopelessness that so many others are feeling right now. It’s difficult to be grounded in hope when everything around you seems to be falling apart. Yet, as I reflect on my own experiences this year, I’m able to celebrate so many manifestations of hope and love in my community through the work being done at Eternal Anchor. Francisco’s story is the perfect illustration of Eternal Anchor’s ability to resist suffering and hopelessness and fight for those marginalized by disability.
Many of those reading this know Francisco’s story, or at least part of it, but it’s worth retelling. Last year, around this time, we received a phone call from the local government clinic. A teenage boy had suffered severe burns and had been abandoned there. One of his nurses heard about Eternal Anchor and asked if there was anything we could do to help. I’ll never forget the day I met Francisco. Walking into the hospital room, I found a broken 18-year-old boy, covered in infected burns and necrotic pressure ulcers. He was emaciated from malnutrition and in a perpetual state of psychosis from the extreme physical pain and trauma. He had been locked up in the same room for almost six months, clinging to life in isolation. When I spoke to one of the clinic directors, he told me that it was just a matter of time until he would die and that there was nothing to be done. They had given up on Francisco.
Eternal Anchor refused to accept this prognosis and sprang into action. Immediately, our partners from Canada, the United States, and Mexico responded to our plea for help with generous donations to transfer him to a private clinic in a nearby city. While he was being treated at the private clinic, we facilitated visits from local churches to make sure he felt supported. After dozens of applications to receive care at a burn centers in the United States and Canada were rejected and when funds were depleted to keep him in the private clinic, we received him in our home, turning our bathroom into a makeshift operating room for his daily wound care. We were finally able to acquire a medical visa and facilitated his transportation to a burn center in California. After his skin graft surgeries and his discharge back to Mexico, our staff spent weeks tending to his postoperative care to keep him free of infection. We facilitated consultations with psychiatrists to address the mental health challenges and physical therapy sessions to get him walking again. It was not easy; it has been a journey filled with hard work, tears, failures, successes, and celebrations. But, the relentless pursuit of justice by the Eternal Anchor community has given Francisco the hope of a future.
Francisco’s journey to recovery continues to be a community effort. Each of Eternal Anchor’s departments plays an important role in his rehabilitation. Our Residential Care program is providing him a loving home and family; our Education Programs give him a routine, an education, physical therapy, and a place to form friendships; our Ranch gives him life skills training and a social outlet on the weekends; and our Community Outreach team continues to coordinate his physical and mental health rehabilitation. On behalf of Francisco and all of us at Eternal Anchor, we want to thank every person who donated, prayed, and helped coordinate Francisco’s medical care. And to all of our current financial partners, thank you for helping us manifest God’s hope and love daily to Francisco and to the hundreds of community clients we serve each week.
There are so many other children and adults with special needs like Francisco in our region who desperately need their basic human needs met, like a home, an education, access to medical care and therapy, and socialization. Thanks to the amazing work being done through our different programs, we know these families and their struggles, we know what it would take to provide the support they need, and we have a deep passion and sense of urgency to help. All we need now is the financial support to make it happen. This Christmas season, please consider partnering with Eternal Anchor to spread hope to even more families impacted by disability in rural Mexico.
Many of us will remember 2020 as one of the most difficult years of our lives. Francisco will remember 2020 as the year he was given a second chance at life. As I wrap up another year, I choose to be anchored by this incredible, life-changing hope. I invite you to do this same.