“Where there is a will, there is a way. If there is a chance in a million that you can do something, anything, to keep what you want from ending, do it. Pry the door open or, if need be, wedge your foot in that door and keep it open.” -Pauline Kael
In 1986, Mami Leo answered a call from God to pack her belongings and move to Guatemala to help abandoned, abused, and malnourished children. With $2,700 raised by her and her prayer group, and faith that the Lord would guide her, Mami Leo devoted nearly thirty years of her life living in the mountains, nourishing, educating, and loving countless Guatemalan children in need. For the past few weeks and remainder of the month, I’ll be highlighting many of incredible accomplishments that helped countless children in need, all thanks to one valiant and dedicated woman, Leonor Portela.
In 2001, the Emmaus Medical Mission group first started its biannual trips to Guatemala from Miami. The Emmaus doctors and volunteers treat a few thousand people each mission who have never before received medical attention in their lives. Mami Leo convinced a well-respected doctor from Miami who at the time was leading medical missions to other countries to bring his group to Guatemala because there were so many people in need of medical assistance. This doctor complied, and has since been bringing his Emmaus team to Guatemala twice a year for fourteen years now. Because of Mami Leo’s dedication to serve the people of Guatemala, thousands of Guatemalan citizens have received medical care ever since.
In 2003, a nutritional ward for malnourished children was started. Nourishment is provided to each child until they have fully recovered. Parents of children outside of the home are provided with a follow-up nutritional program that teaches them how to best feed their children with the available resources. As you can see from just one example in the picture below, the nutritional ward has positively impacted the lives of so many children. And again, this is yet another program that Mami Leo implemented to give children in such terrible, and often times deadly conditions, a chance at life.
In life, we are given more second chances than we realize. It’s time to wake up and realize just how lucky we truly are and learn to take full advantage of each and every day we have here on earth. If you were given the opportunity of a lifetime, what would you do?
Told by the doctors I have minutes to live,
With my life on the line, I have nothing to give.
Thinking about my past, and the errors of my life,
No children, no family, not even a wife.
If I had a second chance would I change in any way?
My life would be different, I would live every day.
I would constantly laugh and share smiles with all,
Soar to the sky and not let myself fall.
Be spoiled with good food, and of course, wine,
My life would be perfect and also divine.
Celebrate each day by enjoying more sweets.
Have lots of children and bring them home treats.
I would shower in the sun and bathe in the rain,
Make Mother Nature my friend, but never in vain.
Sing out loud, as well as dance,
All this I would do if given the chance.
The doctor comes in and unplugs the machine,
He says to go home; this is all just a dream.
I’m dazed and confused, no doubt you are too,
But I’ll take this second chance and start my life anew.