Going into my third week of training, I had received a generous amount of donations from friends and colleagues, but the donations seemed to have stopped coming in. Running was as boring as I imagined it would be, and no T.V. channel at the gym was able to make it more exciting. I was beginning to lose focus on the end goal, as feelings of doubt continued to arise. I had to research something on the Internet for school one afternoon, and upon looking up scholarly articles for the assigned topic, I somehow came across the name of the woman who started the orphanage in Guatemala. I looked into the site and found a radio interview with her, which I listened to later that night when completing my daily run. The interview, which can be found at: http://www.catholicemmausradio.org/media/show21.mp3 really helped give me a motivational push to get back on track and realize that I wasn’t just running for myself, but for a cause bigger than me. And with that, I was able to complete my third week of running, in which I had run 23 miles, and by the end of the fourth week, I had run 24 miles.
Born and raised in Cuba, Leonor Portela moved to Miami where her husband served as an Air Force pilot. Three years later at the age of twenty-six, Leonor’s husband was flying for America in the Bay of Pigs, when his plane was shot down and crashed in the ocean. Years later, after hearing about the devastating 1976 earthquake in Guatemala, Leonor was moved to action and decided to assist in volunteer efforts abroad. She traveled to Guatemala to help out, and came back to the States in shock of the country’s destruction and the conditions that the children were living in. Having found her purpose of saving the children of Guatemala, it took ten years to find the financial help and support that Mami Leo needed, thanks to her prayer group.
In 1986, Leonor sold her home and moved to Guatemala with $2,700 raised by her prayer group, where she opened up a home for children, currently known as Misioneros Del Camino. Starting off with three children, Mami Leo, as she is affectionately known, began collecting donations to bring in more children. One of the first children was a two-year year old girl who weighed only 12 pounds, and had tuberculosis as well. Doctors swore that she would have no more than two weeks to live, but she is currently living in the United States as a straight-A student in school. One of the other children that Mami Leo took into her home had been dipped in scalding water by his parents, and had undergone other atrocious treatments by them as well. Mami Leo carried him, mute and lifeless in a harness for days, and on the fourth day as she put him to bed, he broke his silence and asked, “Por que me quieres?” which translates to “Why do you love me?” He now attends law school and returns to the home to help out whenever he can.
There are roughly 10,000 children living on the streets in Guatemala alone. Nearly 100 out of every 1,000 child will die of malnutrition and hunger. As Mami Leo exclaimed in the above interview, “It’s not only saving a child, giving them food and shelter; anybody can do that. But to give love, to make them citizens that are proud of themselves and not ashamed of where they come from, and become good Christians, I think that’s the job.” Throughout the years, Mami Leo has saved and cared for over 2,200 children and has provided interim care for thousands more. During her time in Guatemala thus far, she has provided educational, nutritional, and medical support to over 42,000 children in the country.
This is the reason that I am running in this week’s Miami Marathon, and the reason why I continue returning to Guatemala year after year. If you would like to help contribute to this incredible cause so that we can help fulfill Mami Leo’s mission, please feel free to click on the below link. And if you would like to learn more about Misioneros Del Camino, please feel free to clink on the bottom link. http://www.gofundme.com/h8kjvs http://www.misionerosdelcamino.org/index.php