Casa de Luz
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
House of Light for children with severe disabilities
The Dominican Republic with all its warmth and beauty is not a disability friendly country. There is no wheelchair access in most public buildings and most apartments do not have elevators. Roads and sidewalks are riddled with potholes and few schools can accommodate children with special needs.
Parents of children with disabilities are often forced to make difficult decisions. It is difficult for both parents to work when one of them must stay home to care for their child. The few services that are available are very expensive and only available in larger cities. For the poor, choices are few. They are often forced to abandon their disabled child or their entire family would starve.
Pastor Lucas Carvajal and his wife Tempora were blessed with four beautiful children. Their son Leo was diagnosed with down syndrome within the first few days of his precious life and doctors predicted that he would not live past the age of 14. The Carvajals were determined to prove them wrong. They searched for services but found very few options that would help him. Instead, they found lots of other parents with the same desperate needs and were motivated to act.
From humble beginnings
They were not willing to give up on their son and decided to create a caring environment for special needs children at their home in 2002. The Carvajals work didn’t go unnoticed and in 2004 the Dominican Republic donated 5.5 acres to build a facility to care for special needs children. In 2006, Casa de Luz orphanage officially opened their doors for severely disabled children with autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and much more. These were children tossed out into the streets or left on doorsteps of churches. The personal reward for their efforts enabled them to spend an additional eight years more than expected with their son Leo who lived to the age of 22.
Today there are 40 children living at Casa de Luz from ages four to 24. Each child is given a full medical examination and assessment when they arrive by mission doctors who come monthly to help the children. A local pediatrician makes weekly visits and nearby hospitals provide services and medicine at greatly reduced costs.
Casa de Luz has large tiled rooms and brightly colored walls with murals of butterflies and flowers. Hallways are wide to accommodate beds on wheels and wheelchairs. Each spacious bedroom has three to four beds and a room mother that watches over the children 24/7. They also change their bed linens as well as bathe and dress them daily.
There is music and laughter
At Casa de Luz the children receive physical therapy, medication, nourishing meals and loving care. Activities include arts and crafts, musical stimulation, story time and games suited for each child. The dedicated staff are patient and trained to care for children with special needs.
Three of the children are able and eager to get an academic education but most of them need therapy, supervised activities and daily stimulation. Despite the wide range of their abilities, each child receives individualized care and feels the love of the supportive staff.
Meet Maria Elizabeth and Victor
Maria Elizabeth (14) insists that she be called Lisa. As you might already guess she is very independent and spunky. She was the second child taken in at Casa de Luz at the age of 2 and needed three surgeries for her severely deformed arms and legs. Lisa is confined to a wheelchair but that doesn’t slow her down.
She is one of just three children with disabilities that are able to attend the nearby school with more than 200 students. Lisa is learning to read and write, is especially enthusiastic about math and is working at a 5th grade level.
Victor was born with extreme scoliosis and before he reached his first birthday was abandoned by his mother and his father was nowhere to be found. Victor’s aunt took him in but the care he needed was far beyond her financial and emotional ability. Each day she sent Victor out to beg in the streets to earn money to pay for food. A local pastor found him and brought him to his parish to be cared for but when he contracted pneumonia, the pastor reached out to Casa de Luz asking them to please take care of him.
Victor is now 10 years old and once again facing a battle for his life. His scoliosis has recently become so severe that his twisted body is squeezing the air from his lungs. He has successfully completed one of three necessary surgeries and is always smiling.
The children and staff at Casa de Luz deserve our help
Born into a difficult and often cruel world, these children have been given a second chance for a life of respect and care. Casa de Luz is a home, a medical center and a place of love.
Medical care is a team effort
- $2,850 per month covers all medical expenses for the children
- $1,200 per month covers the costs of three physical therapists
- $900 per month pays the salaries of three nurses needed for 24-hour coverage
- $750 per month provides all the necessary medicine
Nutrition is especially challenging for children with special needs
- $3,300 per month takes care of all their nutritional needs
- $1,600 per month pays for two cooks and four helpers
- $1,200 per month covers the costs of three nourishing meals and a snack each day
- $300 per month pays for nutritional supplements
- $200 per month pays a nutritionist to monitor and customize diets for each child
It takes a village to raise a child
- $3,200 per month ensures that the children are nurtured, loved and clothed
- $2,600 per month covers the costs of 11 caregivers (room mothers)
- $400 per month pays for two washerwomen to keep the linens and clothes clean
- $200 per month pays for clothes and shoes needed for growing children
Education is a gift of discovery
- $650 per month provides an academic education for three children and learning materials for those that are homebound
- $300 per month pays for transportation to get three children to and from school
- $200 per month covers the costs of books, tablets and art supplies
- $150 per month pays the tuition for three children to attend nearby schools
Your help is also needed for operational expenses
- $1,500 per month is needed in addition to the above expenses
- $800 per month pays for gas to run the ovens, refrigerators and generator
- $500 per month covers the costs of telephones, internet and office supplies
- $200 per month is needed for replacement of wheel chairs and walkers
Need is not just a word, it is a necessity for the children living at Casa de Luz. Sadly there are many more children needing our help. Casa de Luz has room for 50 more children but without additional funding they cannot accept them. We need your support to care for those currently living at the center and for the many others whose futures would be transformed by our gifts.
All Children, Inc. is a 501(c)3 global nonprofit organization that protects, empowers and advocates for at-risk children living in extreme poverty. Our main objective is to provide medical care, nutrition, education and shelter with attention to children with mental and physical disabilities.
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