Carrie’s Heart is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Houston, Texas dedicated to supporting educational and community programs for children with disabilities worldwide.
International projects currently focus primarily in the Yucatan region of Mexico. Carrie’s Heart is working with families and programs (collaboration with special education schools, educational efforts, government, etc.) in Cozumel, the Riviera Maya and the southern Mayan zone in the state of Quintana Roo. Carrie’s Heart supports Cozumel’s CAM school for children with disabilities by providing classroom school supplies and sponsoring a Christmas celebration wtih a gift specially selected for each child.
The Valerie Project aids families of children with severe physical and intellectual disabilities that live in poverty. The project was named for Valerie, the first little girl identified through the initial child find mission in 2006. Valerie has passed away but her memory is an inspiration to many supporters and local families of children with disabilities.
Carrie’s Heart currently sponsors the basic medical, nutritional, personal care and physical therapy needs for four Cozumel children so they can live a life of dignity, without suffering from malnutrition and lack of medical care. Carrie’s Heart partnered with Friends of Cozumel Volunteers who participated in Mission Project Work in October 2009 to provide each of these children custom adaptive equipment constructed specially for their physical therapy and personal care needs. This partnership continues in 2010 with completion of special projects during the Mission Trip in February as well as ongoing efforts to provide support to sponsored families.
Meet these special young people . . .Juan Diego was born with spina bifida and hydrocephaly. He is visually impaired, completely nonverbal and receives all of his nutrition through a gastric feeding tube. He has a seizure disorder and although he is medicated, he has frequent seizures.
Drastic improvements in health and nutrition have occurred since Carrie’s Heart sponsorship began in 2006. This support has helped to reduce stress from the intensity of Juan Diego’s care for his mother, Leticia, who is his primary caregiver. She takes great care of Juan Diego.
The family is very appreciative of the support and resources they have received. Juan Diego’s father is a very caring, nice man who suffers from alcoholism and is unable to adequately provide for the household. Juan Diego lives at home with his mother & father. His two sisters are married with children. The extended family, especially Juan Diego’s nieces and nephews, visit frequently. Juan Diego greatly enjoys being outdoors and his mother takes him out frequently.
Carrie’s Heart began working with Gladys in 2006 when they found her asleep on a dirty floor with her head on a coke bottle for a pillow. She and her siblings were home alone. At that time Gladys had little hair, rarely opened her eyes, had incredibly low energy and slow movements. Over time Gladys has improved nutritionally and her family has worked to improve their living conditions. Her mother is now staying at home and supervising Gladys. They have recently moved into a home that is much better for Gladys and her siblings. She lives with both parents and 3 of her 4 siblings.
Carrie’s Heart encouraged Gladys’ family to be persistent in seeking medical attention that resulted in Gladys resuming thyroid treatment. Changes in the past year have been dramatic. Gladys now has beautiful curly hair, open eyes, increased energy and movement including standing and walking. She is more aware of her surroundings and interactive with others.
Diana Laura has a very loving family environment and is very well cared for by her mother. She lives with both parents and her little sister, Nayeli, in a tiny rental room her mother has made into a home for the family.
In addition to receiving ongoing physical therapy from Carrie’s Heart, Diana Laura’s family has sought therapy through DIF (local social services agency). The family also receives medical care through military benefits at the Naval base on Cozumel since her father is in the Mexican Navy patrol. Diana Laura has a seizure disorder but with medication and improved nutrition we have seen a decrease in seizures and an increase in her alertness and interaction with her environment.
Jose lives with his extended family, including 13 children, in a collection of very modest dwellings outside town on the Transversal road that crosses the island. Jose’s brother, Luis, has an obvious cognitive disability and does not attend school due to the lack of resources to provide transportation to the CAM school for children with disabilities. His mother may also have cognitive issues. Jose’s grandparents, aunts and uncles help to provide for the boys and the other children. The family struggles to provide basic food and clothing needs for the children. They are very open to and grateful for all types of support. Friends of Cozumel assist Jose’s extended family through distributions of food, clothing, shoes and school supplies. Carrie’s Heart and Friends of Cozumel donors and volunteers partnered to build an enclosed kitchen and eating area for Jose’s family in February-March 2010.
Jose spent most of his time in a hammock or lying on his back in a plastic chair prior to receiving the new chair custom built by volunteers that supports him sitting upright. Jose is making tremendous progress as a result of twice weekly physical therapy sessions provided by Carrie’s Heart.