A new world for Irineo

Irineo smiling by fountain

Written by Margarita Castro, associate

(Versión original en español abajo)

I have been a Franciscan associate and member of our team for about a year now. During that time I have seen lots of instances in which our children have been helped, guided, and loved, and I feel blessed to be a part of something so beautiful. But one story in particular not only touched me, but changed my life: my way of looking at things, my way of giving thanks to God for all that is given me each day.

It began the day I accompanied my Franciscan sister Malena on a visit to Irineo’s home. Ten-year-old Irineo is one of the children in our Sponsor-a-Child program. My first impression was how far away from Cuernavaca they live! We drove a long time before we arrived at the nursery in the middle of nowhere, where Irineo’s father works as a gardener. There we parked the car, walked down a hill, and crossed a little stream on the rickety board that stretched across it. To my dismay I saw a shack in very poor condition. This was home for Irineo, his parents, and his older brother and sister, Panchito and Karina. I was saddened to see the poverty in which they lived. But what impacted me even more was meeting Panchito and Karina, ages twelve and thirteen, both of whom are bedridden. According to Irineo’s mother, they had not received enough oxygen during birth, and have severe brain damage, in a condition perhaps only slightly better than what we would call a vegetative state.

I cannot describe what I felt in that moment. My heart broke in two, and at the same time my admiration grew for Irineo’s mother Rosa, who singlehandedly cares for Panchito and Karina with love, affection, and patience, while giving Irineo the care he needs also. When I returned home and reflected on what I had seen, I could barely believe the situation: a home with a dirt floor, no running water, and two severely handicapped children who needed constant care. It did not seem real. I prayed for the family every day after that. I especially prayed for Irineo. Rosa had shared with us that he seemed depressed and no longer wanted to attend school.

One day it occurred to me that perhaps Irineo could attend Camomilha,the YMCA residential camp in the nearby town of Tepoztlan. Camomilha provides room and board for children like Irineo, who come from backgrounds of extreme poverty. They also see to it that the children attend public school in town, and help them with their homework when they get home. Irineo has the right to be happy, I thought; to have a change in his life that would reveal to him another side of life, so that he would see that life is not only pain and suffering. I mentioned my idea to Sister Maggie and Malena, and we all got to work, trying to make it happen. It was not easy, but we did it!  One of the obstacles was the cost involved: almost seven times the normal cost of sponsoring a child. But a wonderful man from Canada overheard us talking, and made an online donation that very day to cover the extra cost for an entire year. Added to the donations his regular sponsor sent, we had enough to send Irineo on his way.

And now it is with great satisfaction that I see Irineo’s face filled with happiness. His joy is evident in the photo above, taken on his first day at Camomilha. I pray that God will continue to guide him, so that someday he will grow into a good man for both himself and his family.


A  casi un año de pertenecer como Asociada Activa, en Cuernavaca Children’s Mission, he visto muchas historia de muchos pequeños, a los cuales se les guía, se les da apoyo, se les da amor algo muy hermoso sin lugar a dudas.

Ahora quiero compartir una historia que cambio mi vida, mi manera de ver las cosas, mi manera de la valorar todo lo que tengo, mi manera de darle Gracias a Dios por todo lo que me da dia a dia.

Un dia acompañe a mi hermana Malena a una visita a la casa de Irineo, un chico al que se le brinda apoyo con una beca, mi primera impresión fue: Que lejos vive, tomando en cuenta que yo vivo en la centro de Cuernavaca, para mi todo es lejos, después de manejar por un buen rato llegamos a un invernadero y estacionamos el coche, de ahí caminamos cruzamos un apancle y mi sorpresa fue ver un casa de carton  muy destruida y ahí estaba la casa de Irineo eso fue muy triste, pero realmente lo impactante fue cuando conoci a sus dos hermanos de 12 y 13 años totalmente en estado vegetal, en ese momento no puedo describir lo que sentí, mi corazón se partió de dolor y de admiración al ver a Rosa ( la madre) con cuanto amor, cariño y paciencia trata a sus dos hijos sin dejar de lado a Irineo.

Cuando regrese a casa no podía creer lo que acababa de presenciar fue algo que en un momento pensé que era un sueño, y le pedi mucho a Dios por esa familia, y un dia se me ocurrió que Irineo podía ir a Camomilha, el tiene todo el derecho de un cambio de vida, de ser feliz, de conocer otro aspecto de la vida no solo el del dolor y el sufrimiento, y fue asi que lo comente con la Hermana Maggie y con Malena y ellas aceptaron mi propuesta y pusieron manos a la obra,  trabajaron muy duro pero lo lograron.

Ahora con gran satisfacción puedo ver una cara feliz. la de Irineo, mucho le pido a Dios que lo ilumine y siga adelante con este tesoro que tiene en sus manos, que no nos defraude y que llegue hacer un hombre de bien para el y para su familia.


One response to “A new world for Irineo

  1. What a wonderful article, Margarita. Thank you.

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