“How do we nuture the soul? By revering our own life. By learning to love it all, not only the joys and the victories, but also the pain and the struggles.” -Nathaniel Branden
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
There are thousands of children living on the streets in Guatemala. Hundreds of them will die of malnutrition and hunger. But as Mami Leo exclaimed in a previous Radio Marathon, “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.” For nearly thirty years, Mami Leo has saved, cared for, and provided interim care to thousands of children. During her time in Guatemala, she also provided educational, nutritional, and medical support to countless children in the country. And because of her persistence, medical mission trips have helped provide medical attention to thousands of other Guatemalan citizens in need. Mami Leo has truly made this world a better place, and it is up to us to continue her mission.
Mami Leo was an incredible woman with a beautiful soul. She has taught us that with passion and unconditional love, anything is possible. For nearly thirty years, she has saved thousands of children from abuse, abandonment, neglect, and malnutrition. She has also provided help and care to children with neurological disorders who would have otherwise been cast aside by society. She impacted the lives of families throughout Guatemala by teaching them how to provide proper nutrition to their children, but above all, she spread love to every person she ever came across. Her love is what is helping break the cycle of abuse, abandonment, neglect, and malnutrition across the country. Her love has given countless children a brighter future. And her love is what will keep us working to fulfill her legacy. And as she once put it, “If you don’t dream, you’ll never make it.” Together, we can help continue to fulfill her dream.
This week’s Snapshot Challenge is meant to honor someone very special. I wrote about her a little over a month ago on a few of my blog posts about training for the Miami Half Marathon. This week’s Snapshot Challenge is in honor of Leonor Portela, who is more affectionately known as Mami Leo.
Mami Leo was born in Cuba and moved to Miami, where she married her husband. He served as a pilot in the American Air Force, but he was unfortunately killed in action. Shortly thereafter, Mami Leo saw the devastating after-effects of 1976 earthquake in Guatemala and all of the abandoned children on television and decided to do something about it. She sold her house, paid off her debts, and with only $2,000 to her name, she moved to the poverty-stricken city of Sumpango, Guatemala and built a home for children in need.
Mami Leo started her home with only six children she rescued from garbage dumps in the city, and since then, she has saved thousands of children to date. There are currently over one hundred children living in Misioneros Del Camino, and there is a neurological center on site, which provides various therapies to children from across the country with neurological disorders. The therapies include speech, sensorial, psychological, occupational, physical, and others, and they are completely free of charge to their families, paid for solely by donations. The goal of Misioneros Del Camino is not just to provide a shelter to children in need and to feed them, nor is it to provide therapies to children with disabilities and send them on their way. The goal is to provide a home to these children and give them something they did not previously have. And that is the gift of love.
These weekly Snapshot Challenges are meant to showcase surrounding beauty in its natural form so that we can learn to better appreciate life’s treasurers. Mami Leo is an incredible woman with a beautiful soul. She dedicated her life to providing a future to the younger generations in Guatemala, and has changed the lives of thousands of children. Unfortunately, Mami Leo’s health has recently been declining, so I kindly ask that everyone please take a minute to pray for this remarkable heroine. Thank you all.